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My Big Fat Belfast Christmas review at Theatre at the Mill, Newtonabbey – ‘charmingly festive’

Caroline Curran, Jimmy Doran, Abigail McGibbon, Patrick Buchanan and Julie Maxwell in My Big Fat Belfast Christmas at Theatre at the Mill. Photo: John Murphy/Aurora Photographic Agency Caroline Curran, Jimmy Doran, Abigail McGibbon, Patrick Buchanan and Julie Maxwell in My Big Fat Belfast Christmas at Theatre at the Mill. Photo: John Murphy/Aurora Photographic Agency
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Writer and actress Caroline Curran is well-known to Belfast audiences, and well-loved by them for her original comic performances. Happily, Curran’s merger with Julie Maxwell will not disappoint loyal fans or newcomers. Readers should note, however, that this is a family comedy in subject matter, not in audience demographic; this is not a show for children.

James Doran as Da gives a particularly intelligent performance that speaks of both sorrow and joy, and Abigail McGibbon as Ma is on top Christmas-hysteria-induced form. The relationship between the sisters, played by Curran and Maxwell, is funny and lively, but there are more interesting relationships happening on the stage that don’t get fully explored.

During the flashes of tragedy, the dialogue often lacks subtlety. The comedy is often broad and always loud, but captures the nuances of a Belfast family Christmas perfectly.

The themes and plot of My Big Fat Belfast Christmas are brilliantly supported by the set and costume; one of Mags’ costumes in particular will cause jaws to drop.

While not the most sophisticated seasonal offering, this play – like the decorations that adorn its set – may be a little gaudy, but it is charmingly festive and familiar.

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Verdict
Amusing Christmas comedy with moments of both utter hilarity and real pathos
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