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Talking Heads: An electric and hugely fun display from Nuala McKeever

By Simon Fallaha

A concoction of thematic depth, black comedy and broad humour, Alan Bennett's A Lady Of Letters and Her Big Chance were given a uniquely interpretative and compelling slant by Nuala McKeever in an electric, eclectic performance.

These two Talking Heads monologues, made famous by Patricia Routledge and Julie Walters respectively, were injected with pace, physicality and a surprising but welcome locality by McKeever and director Peter Quigley at Newtownabbey's Courtyard Theatre.

A Lady Of Letters saw McKeever enter the shoes of Irene, a middle-aged busybody reeling from the death of her mother.

Her delivery was bitter and pronounced, the desperate yet desperately restrained rantings and musings of a troubled woman driven to despair and delusion through a family bereavement.

Seamlessly crossing the line from black comedy to more genial humour, the sillier, less tight but equally fun Her Big Chance told the tale of Lesley, a struggling thirty-something actress whose big break turns out to be nowhere near what she hoped for.

This character was obviously a self-centred diva, yet once again, in McKeever's hands, came across as all too human, a professional who took her job seriously yet was never taken seriously.

McKeever's witty underplayment tied neatly alongside gently comedic overplayment in an actor's showcase, where opposite sides of a cultural coin were given life and light by an accomplished performer.

Four stars

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