Ten Dates With Mad Mary

January 31, 2010

Yasmine Akram’s 10 Dates with Mad Mary is a charming, expletive laced ode to life in small town, parochial Ireland. Fresh from a stint in the Joy “Mad” Mary McArdle is back in her native Drogheda, frying chicken and knocking back cider and alco pops with the next generation of lay abouts- doing nothing to undo her reputation for being drunk and disorderly. Treated like shit by her best friends bridal shower she vows to scare up a date in time for the nuptials and prove to all that she is a changed woman.

The whole thing feels like a work in progress. As funny as they are some of the jokes( the speed dating and linguaphone segments) could have been really hilarious with a little more tweaking. To much time is dedicated to fleshing out the character of Mary and not enough to her humor which is often laugh out loud funny. It would have worked better had Akram approached it as a comedy sketch rather than searching for hidden depths. Darren Thornton’s direction is too convoluted for a piece this simple, with superfluous props and music getting in the way of Akram’s natural presence.

Despite first night jitters she delivers a sensitive portrayal of a woman determined to change but unable to make the necessary steps in forgiving herself or accepting that she, like the rest of us, is deserving of love. Her script captures perfectly the bare faced
bitchiness and small town mentality of the little fish that never escaped the little pond and her delivery, though lacking in energy,
is crisp, clear and vivid.

This is a wonderful little play that marks the arrival of a talented new voice in Irish comedy. Akram doesn’t cheat her audience by giving her character an easy ride and as she continues to hone her craft I look forward to seeing what else she produces.


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