REVIEW: Deirdre O’Kane’s ‘Demented’ at Theatre Royal
DEIRDRE O’Kane is demented. And why wouldn’t she be. She’s got an orange daughter with even oranger legs and a green and white school uniform that could pass for a walking tricolour. And Miss Green, White and feckin’ Orange is a damn fussy eater. Teen-daughter turns her nose up at organic roast chicken because it looked a bit yellow in the fridge. “I mean,” gasps an exasperated Deirdre, “what the feck wrong could there be with roast-feckin’-chicken, for Gawd’s sake?”… and then adds the killer blow, “and you’d look pretty yellow too if ye were feckin’ fed on feckin’ corn all yer life!”
Now she’s become her mother, with accusations such as “Ye’re not goin’ out in that?”… and “just who exactly decided that bikinis weren’t revealing enough?” Cue thunderous applause and appreciation from all the equally demented mammies in the audience who know, all too well, the vagaries of a teenage girl’s mind and moods.
‘Deirdre’s fanbase is a post-Friends generation that empathises with every word of this frenetic comic’
And speaking of moods. Deirdre is perimenopausal! And she’s got all the symptoms and attitude to go with it because she’s Googled it. Including memory issues… she forgot the husband and on one school run collected the wrong kids… including a rather morose Tadhg who just refuses to leave her back-seat consciousness. “Hot flushes?” says she, “I could sell thermal heating to the grid”. And then… “is the air-conditioning on in here?” demands a pretty-feisty Deirdre to the lighting-box and suddenly there’s cool air wafting throughout the People’s Theatre.
She’s going home demanding dinner from her kids and her husband wonders if she’s menopausal because she’s pretty angry all the time. She’s even got that Clint Eastwood do-ye-feel-lucky-punk look – ready to sort out all bank-robbers and mule-haters.
Estrogen is the lad, though. And he’s going to turn you into a busted flush because even Clint wouldn’t sort that lad out. And when he teams up with collagen, there’s gonna be some serious stuff goin’ down. So watch out all you young wans in the audience. Not that there’s that many because Deirdre’s fanbase is a post-Friends generation that empathises with every word of this frenetic comic. Deirdre regularly leans forward to create that sense of intimacy with the sisterhood. When she asks, “do you know what I mean?” hundreds of heads nod in knowing agreement. This crowd have all the tee-shirts that scream angst and can identify with Deirdre’s sense of paranoia.
And she’s found a female doc to answer her Google-informed enquiries. That’s the problem with Google – it provides information but not interpretation. “Ow-Kaaay,” says the very young, blonde, attractive, neophyte-medic with that whining-nasal beyond-large vowelled Marion Finnucane D4 accent. “Oi’m getting some seeeriousss voibes here about horrrmownes.”
Actually, Deirdre is “fockin’ demented” with the hormones and lo… hormone-therapy bio-stuff patches arrive straight to her door courtesy of Dr. Blondie. Demented Deirdre sticks a month’s-worth of HRT treatment into the one patch and whadayaknow – now but she’s as high as a kite on top of the Comeraghs. She reverses her car into a wall and laughs her head off. Wahoooo. She could paint for Ireland until it all comes crashing down and she’s as low as a sea-urchin that can’t swim.
“Hands up all the people in the audience that have a cleaner?” Not one hand. In fairness, you would want to be mad to put up your hand. I mean… admit to having a cleaner?… probably safer to admit to sheep-stealing! O’Kane’s cleaning lady, Monica, returned to the Philippines during Covid and hasn’t returned. A cleaning man? “Now there’s an oxymoron,” delights Deirdre … “or maybe just a moron”. Cue thunderous applause from the sisterhood that dominates the audience. Step forth Emma from China who doesn’t appreciate orange teenagers who won’t wear her mother’s choice of clothes for her. Emma doesn’t entertain teen angst and declares that her daughter WILL wear them. Nothing stops this whirlwind of domestic blitz. Storm Ophelia?…“I’m on my way, Deirdre”…Christmas Day… “I’ll be there, Deirdre”. Demented Deirdre has moved past embarrassment into comfort and I see a lot of jealous heads in the audience.
She’s done great work for the Palestinian people in Gaza and Trócaire brought her there recently. Their situation is appalling. The Palestinians live in the only open-air prison in the world where visitors are routinely strip-searched if the guards are in the least suspicious.
A scale of one to five is displayed with open fingers to each other where four or five fingers is bad news. When copper anti-arthritis insoles (a mother’s idea for a daughter that doesn’t have arthritis!) set off alarms, Deirdre high-fives everyone with “it’s ok… only my copper insoles… everything is all right… no need to panic”. The bemused guards run her out of the exit post into a waiting taxi to Bethlehem where our adorable comic gets to utter the immortal words, “Taxi, follow that star for Bethlehem”, before exiting stage-left to a standing ovation from a full house.
Now… that’s what I call an exit!