Belfast Telegraph

Mistletoe and Crime review: Spirit of Christmas triumphs with Jones

By Michael Conaghan

Like some great inverted bingo call sign, it was a full house at the Lyric Theatre last night for Marie Jones' Christmas offering.

The audience was clearly in a mood for some festive spirit, and Jones did her usual job of weaving a compelling storyline out of a range of recognisable Belfast types, using a Christmas night where two policewomen discover more about themselves and the city with every passing encounter.

Thus an early ruckus with a Latvian victim of a 'domestic' was Belfast showing its modern multicultural face for good and ill while a missing old lady brings our two heroines up against the realities of class and power.

This was done mainly with the kind of light comic touch in which the cast excelled, with Ciaran Nolan in particular creating a series of memorable cameos, especially as the tramp Haribo, a kind of yuletide lord of misrule.

When darker tones entered, they tended to jar, leading to an occasionally disjointed first half to the play.

But the second part had some beautifully picaresque moments, centring on a moving encounter between the missing mother, played beautifully by Christina Nelson, and a busker 'Rosco' outside the BBC, with DJ Hugo Duncan the provider of that necessary Christmas miracle.

But in the true spirit of Christmas, personal issues resolved themselves to the satisfaction of the good, and the relative discomfort of the not really that bad.

And it ended with our two main protagonists sharing a Chocolate Orange and a real friendship.

Four stars

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