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off-key opera hits no notes

Grand Canal Theatre >Aoife Finneran

I'M betting God is pretty angry with the people behind Jerry Springer: The Opera. However, to all the pitchfork-waving protesters out there, it's probably less to do with blasphemy and more the screeching cacophony that is the music.

Unless you have a particular penchant for monotonous melodies and well-tailored insults like "three-nipple cousin f****r", you're hardly likely to skip out of the theatre in a burst of song. But if you want to expand your repertoire of abusive language, get there fast.

That aside, the show does have its moments. The TV show spawned a culture of foul-mouthed, publicity-loving freaks airing their personal squabbles in public. It was pure theatre, celebrating the extremes of modern life, so why not bring it to the stage?


It begins with the familiar scene of Jerry on his TV set, with troubled guests discussing infidelities and sexual fantasies. The gist of a complicated tale is that Jerry is called to account by Satan who brings him to Hell to do a special show. Satan wants an apology for his expulsion from Heaven and reckons that Jerry, in his capacity as a self-styled peace broker, is the man for the job.

But what Jerry doesn't realise is that his guests on his Hellish talk show will include Jesus and his mother Mary and Adam and Eve. And not even their spiritual reputations prevent them from hissing, fighting and cursing like the worst Jerry Springer guests. Even God pops in, decked out in a white suit.

Despite an ingenious plot, the writers have sacrificed humour for an over-reliance on profanity. However, the cast of the National Youth Musical Theatre have done an excellent job with poor material. Simon Delaney's Jerry Springer has the presenter's accent and body language off to a tee. Eoin Cannon's powerful voice makes his warm-up man and the Devil commanding presences, while AJ Lewis throws himself into the role of the nappy-wearing fetishist Montel with gusto before morphing into Jesus.

The large supporting cast are sharp, slick and utterly at home with a top-class set, great lighting and effects. It's just a shame about the material. HHIII (Ends tonight.)