Review: Good Mourning Mrs Brown, Edinburgh Playhouse

AS the Mrs Brown tour continues across the UK, it separates the audience into two camps. You either think it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced or you think the naff gags and pantomime humour are as amusing as a cold sore. ****

The packed Edinburgh audience was obviously in the former group. Which explains why the Edinburgh run sold out months before opening night.

And rightly so. It’s rude, but it’s good. Actually, it’s great.

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The story, such as it is, revolves around Grandad (Dermot O’Neill) pretending he’s dead in order to hear people say nice things about him.

And that’s about it. But that’s all it needs to be because it offers a perfect vein for Mrs Brown (Brendan O’Carroll) to mine for nuggets of irreverent humour.

There are scrambled elements of slapstick, pantomime and farce – with the added dimension of O’Carroll regularly veering wildly off-script, leaving the rest of the cast to sort themselves out as best they can.

This tactic leaves the cast member – you never know who O’Carroll is going to turn his attention to next – unable to speak for stifling their giggles. It’s a piece of off-beat nonsense that the audience fully appreciates.

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All this is helped by the video screens either side of the stage, which zoom in on the poor cast member who is desperately trying to deliver his next line.

O’Carroll gives no quarter, breaking the fourth wall at one point, saying: “I don’t remember this taking so long when I wrote it.”

Intelligent and complex it’s not. Entertaining and ribald it certainly is.

The set is a simple room and kitchen, the characters are outrageous, and the humour is bawdy. Meanwhile, the gags cannon into one another to produce a high- energy performance that brought the entire theatre to its feet in a standing ovation.

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What Mrs Brown tries to produce is kick off your shoes, switch off your brain and have a good belly-laugh entertainment. Such is the phenomenon that Mrs Brown has become that, like it or not, this is exactly what audiences want.

That being the case, Mrs Brown delivers.

Run ends Saturday