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The Theatreguide.London Review

I Hear You And Rejoice
Tricycle Theatre Summer 2017

This comic, touching and thoroughly entertaining monologue by the admirably spelled Mikel Murfi is a follow-up to the same writer-performer's The Man In The Women's Shoes, a hit at the Tricycle last year. 

As in the earlier show, Murfi plays a mild-mannered village cobbler who is mute in his dealings with others but eloquent in the thoughts he shares with us, and a dozen or so other inhabitants of the very Irish village. 

The first show ended with the surprise proposal of marriage from the most beautiful, vivacious and strong-minded woman in the village, and this one picks up the story seven years later at (no spoiler alert we're told this at the start) her funeral. 

Her husband sits, mildly dazed but fully appreciative, as the rest of the village take turns giving voice to their various reasons for loving the most remarkable woman any of them had ever met. 

Even the priest expresses bemused admiration for her as he repeatedly reminds us that the very unorthodox mass he is conducting is according to her specific idiosyncratic instructions. 

Meanwhile their memories trigger some of the widower's own, leading to Murfi playing all the roles in a string of recreated events. 

Among her contributions to  the community the woman was the no-nonsense manager of the local football team, and a radio commentator's increasingly hysterical report on a game she got involved in is a comic highpoint, as are the memories of the barely-talented entries in a local talent night. 

Smaller and more intimate moments, like the couple's mutual discovery that he was ticklish, are as important in his memory and the audience's delight as the flashier anecdotes, and the whole is infused with a naive Irish eloquence ('the most beautiful woman that ever water washed') that enhances both the reality and the folklorish flavour of the tales being told. 

Murfi is a quiet and unassuming performer who draws us into his characters rather than forcing them on us, very much to the just-over-an-hour monologue's enrichment. 

And the warm and moving portrait of the woman, the man and the blessings of their later-in-life love comes to a climax in a final twist that infuses the title with a magic that only the most determined of curmudgeons could resist.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review -   I Hear You And Rejoice - Tricycle Theatre 2017

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