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The Miracle of Great Homer Street review at Royal Court, Liverpool – ‘cleverly constructed and mysterious’

Les Dennis in The Miracle of Great Homer Street at Royal Court, Liverpool. Photo: Zanto Digital Les Dennis in The Miracle of Great Homer Street at Royal Court, Liverpool. Photo: Zanto Digital
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Gerry Linford’s The Miracle of Great Homer Street was runner-up in last year’s Hope Playwriting Prize and Les Dennis was sitting on the judging panel.

Now he stars as Father Aherne, a troubled priest who finds himself lodging with devout Catholic Marion and her lapsed husband Terry. It’s 1978 and the stars are coming into alignment. The World Cup final will fall on Aherne’s 60th birthday, and he has some very big plans that he needs Terry’s help to bring to fruition.

Dennis clearly revels in playing Father Aherne, while Andrew Schofield is a perfect comic partner as the complicated and conflicted Terry. Catherine Rice is well cast as Terry’s long-suffering wife Marion, while Jake Abraham just about manages to keep a straight face in his hysterical appearances as Saint Cajetan.

Cajetan is the Patron Saint of Argentina, gamblers and the unemployed. Aherne hopes that the saint, who he’s been seeing in visions, will help him hatch his master plan. The play is as much a mystery as it is a riotous comedy and as we ride the rollercoaster ride of the first act we really are kept in suspense as to where it’s leading us.

The biggest surprise, when it comes in Act II, is the play’s ability to turn on a knife-edge and stun its guffawing audience into silence. The energy built on laughter fuels extraordinary heat in the morality tale that emerges in the closing scenes – this is comedy with a sting in its tail.

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A cleverly constructed and mysterious comedy of football, avarice and redemption