Mikel Murfi returns to the Tricycle with the celebratory sequel to last year's 'The Man in the Woman's Shoes'
At the funeral of a brilliant woman, her husband Pat is silent. Well, silent to the world perhaps, but not to us. We hear his recollections loud and clear, of a luminescent figure who filled her Irish community with joy, love and more than a dash of uproar.
Mikel Murfi – performing his monologue alongside its previously-seen prequel 'The Man in the Woman’s Shoes' in the Tricycle cinema while the theatre is refurbished – is an actor who sings when he speaks. The Irishman delivers his words with a rhythm and a lyricism best described as hypnotic.
He plays many roles as the funeral progresses, flitting between quirky readings in the church and the backstories they evoke. Some are funny: the high-pitched lady singing her own version of the ‘p-salms’, the apologetic friend reading a scandalous rewrite of the gospel. But amid the laughter is a powerful meditation on the significance of a life well-lived, told from the bottom of a broken heart.
Murfi has something of the showman about him, in one scene memorably miming a trumpet, harmonica and gramophone record. He switches seamlessly between characters and settings, and although at times the sheer number of scenarios becomes disorientating, the central thread is never lost. And it builds to a deeply moving final farewell, as the true extent of Pat's dependence on his late wife becomes clear.
'The universe had to expand to accommodate her,' Pat says at one point of the woman who changed his life. What may sound like hyperbole elsewhere sounds perfectly natural in Murfi’s hands. This is a masterclass in the art of the monologue. Funerals have rarely been so enjoyable.