Second Honeymoon

Aug 7 2019 | By More

★★★★☆    Pacy nostalgia

Mayfield Salisbury Church Hall (Venue 11): Fri 2– Sat 17Aug 2019
Review by Hugh Simpson

Second Honeymoon at Mayfield Salisbury Church extends Edinburgh People’s Theatre’s record-breaking Fringe run with some style. Unashamedly nostalgic and with bags of comic bravado, it purrs like a well-oiled machine.

Like 2017’s Wedding Fever, this is a reworking of an Irish original by Sam Cree, which first saw service in Scotland as a vehicle for Jimmy Logan. Here, the central characters are the McIlroys, returning for their silver wedding to the same Saltcoats boarding house where they spent their honeymoon. A disparate set of guests are in attendance, and misunderstandings inevitably result – although most of the humour here is verbal rather than straight-ahead farce.

Gordon Braidwood, Lyzzie Dell, Ronnie Millar. Pic: Terry Railley

Despite its origins, this fits squarely in the tradition of old-fashioned Scottish variety, with all that entails. Just because the ‘you’ll like what you’re given, lights out at nine and definitely no fun’ style of seaside holiday is not greatly mourned, that does not necessarily mean that places like Saltcoats should be forgotten. Similarly, there are things about variety that should be cherished, and other things that maybe shouldn’t.

If you like snappily gallus one-liners and top-notch evocations of drunk men, then form an orderly queue. If, however, you are troubled by sexual politics that make Are You Being Served? look woke, you might want to think twice.

Which would be a shame, as the hints of misogyny and homophobia come from a worldview that (fittingly) comes straight out of a seaside postcard. Director Iain Fraser’s deep understanding of this style of comedy is transferred to an impressive cast. And, deep down, there are definite ties between the characters, whose foibles and insecurities are explored to a surprising extent.

enviable timing

Chief amongst these is Ronnie Millar’s Frank McIlroy, whose smart patter comes from that familiar trope of the put-upon working man, trying to avoid the foreman and his wife to have a fly fag and a wee bet, yet who spends much of the play worrying that his wife is going to run off with a resurfacing old flame. Millar is very funny, with enviable timing and just the right amount of playing to the gallery.

Irene Beaver, Ronnie Millar, Gordon Braidwood and Lyzzie Dell. Pic: Terry Railley

He has an excellent foil in Mandy Black as Agnes McIlroy. Her combination of humorous frustration and no-nonsense yet exasperated devotion makes them a very believable couple.

Fellow guests the Mansfields are much more stereotypical – the bossy wife and hen-pecked husband – but Pat Johnson gives her a convincing energy, while Gordon Braidwood’s maudlin drunk contrasts nicely with Millar’s more puckish one.

Stephanie Hammond and Euan McIntyre’s newlyweds are pleasingly done, with Hammond’s outfits among the usual tremendous attention to detail you would expect from EPT (full marks also for Agnes’s fruit salad hat).

There are well achieved comedy performances all through the cast; Irene Beaver’s hangdog, illness-obsessed Mrs Harkness wrings every drop of humour from the role, as does Lyzzie Dell’s tyrannical boarding-house proprietor.

Dean Smith and Joanna Meiklejohn. Pic: Terry Railley

Joanna Meiklejohn’s chambermaid has a tremendous manic energy, while Dean Smith, as her drawling American beau, nails whatever the US version of glaikit is. Graham Bell, as Agnes’s old flame Malcolm, is suitably annoying yet still funny. Jay Gardner, as a camp guest, has the most thankless task of all to make something of the part, but does so with considerable style.

Good as the individual performers are, it is the ensemble that really impresses. The way that such a disparate group, and a frankly meandering set of events, can be so compelling, is down not only to the genial good nature of much of Cree’s script, but also to the excellent job Fraser has done with his cast.

However silly it may be at times, the cast never waver from their belief that these are real people in a situation that matters, which is what makes this so involving as well as funny.

Running time 2 hours 20 minutes including one interval
Mayfield Salisbury Church Hall, 18 West Mayfield, EH9 1TQ. (Venue 11)
Friday 2– Saturday 17 August 2019
Mon-Fri at 7.30 pm; Sat at 2.30 pm.
Tickets and details:

EPT website:
Facebook: @EdinburghPeoplesTheatre
Twitter: @EPeoplesTheatre

Mandy Black, Irene Beaver, Gordon Braidwood, Pat Johnson, Stephanie Hammond, Euan McIntyre and Ronnie Millar. Pic: Terry Railley


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Comments (3)

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  1. Lyzzie Dell says:

    Just simply “thanks”…

  2. Iain Fraser says:

    Many thanks, Hugh, for this excellent review. We have had great fun producing this piece and I couldn’t have asked for a better, more hard working cast and crew.

  3. Irene Beaver says:

    Thanks Hugh.