Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Musical? begins where Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie left off, and, after two hours of weak gags and weaker songs, Mrs Brown’s Boys d’audience – or this member at least – is certain it ought to have spent longer in d’rehearsal room.
As in the film, Dublin’s stout-hearted stallholders have won their court case against developers who wished to close Moore Street market. But where to find the €75,000 legal costs? Mrs Brown (Brendan O’Carroll), matriarch of the fruit stall, has a plum idea: put on a musical and watch the dosh roll in.
The question mark of the title indicates a certain hesitancy over genre. There are only eight songs and they are, without exception, unmemorable. This is a mercy. The memory deserves better. As for O’Carroll’s script, well, if you took out all the effing and jeffing it would be a good deal shorter. The city of Billy Connolly needs no lessons in how swearing can add rhythm and oomph to a joke, but the trouble here is that too often the swearing is the joke.
What niggles is the wasted opportunity. Mrs Brown’s Boys has long had an appreciative audience in Glasgow, going back to 2006 when it was spotted at the Pavilion theatre by a BBC producer who had a hunch it would make a sitcom. There is, therefore, a huge amount of goodwill in the room, much of it squandered. And the room itself – an arena – is too large. Unless you are sitting in the first 20 or so rows, you will likely find yourself watching the big screens rather than the stage.
One positive: O’Carroll, as Mrs Brown, all cuppas and cardies and Les Dawson-ish gurn, is a pleasure to watch. More Teabag than Fleabag, his breaking of the fourth wall is always fun. He seems to forget his lines a few times, and even has to wander off set for a prompt, yet such lapses are in keeping with the franchise’s wonky, blooper-reel charm.
Some pathos, much filth, these seem to be the ingredients for commercial success. Creatively, though? D’Musical is a dud. No question.
• At Newcastle Arena, 5-7 April. Then touring until 15 December.