Eejit Of Love Reviews
Karen Moran • 9 September 2008
Another autumnal season of ‘The X Factor’ has just kicked off, with voyeurs tuning in to see the desperate and talented (mostly the desperate) sing it out for the judges’ approval. And as Britney Spears is showcasing her recovery from the dark side, Jody Trehy brings us the hilarious musical ‘Eejit of Love’, firmly holding a mirror in the face of the absurdity of our celebrity-obsessed, popstar damnation culture.
We journey with Billy (Harpur) and Eileen (Creighton) as they leave their small town and the safety of their weekly performance in Billy’s grandfather’s bar to pursue a bigger stage in Smokey City, on the set of ‘XTV’. There they encounter the dastardly music mogul Pete Popalypse (Grennell). Eileen is quickly seduced by the glamour and hype of pop stardom, while Billy becomes just another ‘XTV’ reject, and is forced to retreat back to Ma (Regan), and the comfort of her mashed potatoes, to nurse his broken heart.
But Eileen soon discovers that fame is not all it’s cracked up to be and her downward spiral is not too unlike that of poor Ms Spears. But close to hand is St Bono (Grennell), the cowboy country-singing angel, who offers salvation and much needed guidance to Billy and Eileen, and finally sets them on the road home to real reality.
Lead by a solid and talented cast and accompanied by a live band and backing dancers, ‘Eejit of Love’ is flawlessly choreographed. Karl Harpur plays a charming lead and the unconventional hero of the piece, accompanied by Amy Creighton’s powerful voice. Mark O’Regan needs only to make an appearance on stage to get the audience giggling, and as he breaks into song it soon descends into cramp-inducing hysterics.
The clever and witty songs are so much more than gag tunes; I defy anyone to come out of the performance not humming ‘Old Potatoes’. Set on the modest platform of the Samuel Beckett Theatre, I have a feeling it hasn’t quite reached its full potential and, given the musical’s big show tunes, would be better suited to a larger stage. Though I would recommend you see it during the Fringe before it replaces ‘I, Keano’ as the next big sell-out show.
“Old potatoes, old potatoesss!” sing the audience with their hands in the air—and I’m right with them. This show is glorious entertainment. There’s nothing new here, but that’s not really the point: the point is fulfilling the audience’s expectations of character and plot and making them sing. The songs are superb, lyrically and musically from the introductory instrumental, coming on like a country & western Go! Team to the main theme Butterfly, which has a gorgeous tune, to the singalongs with Ma—basic, and limited to the word potatoes, but the audience go with it—at top voice. The plot follows familiar tropes of musical narratives: boy meets girl/seeking adventure and fame in the city (the smoky city)/ innocence to experience/rags to riches—the narrative makes many cross cultural references including Hansel & Gretal —Madonna Toxic Girl and of course the X factor where the young innocents are potentially money-making commodities.
The characters are all superb–but a special mention to the beautifully unctuous impresario who combines all the pantomime villains you can think of–from Dick Dastardly to the Child Catcher in Chitty Bang Bang. The crowd love/hate him and in one hilarious/worrying scene he emerges from the audience with a chain saw in his hand waving it maliciously in the faces of an unsuspecting audience. The rest of the cast, however, are also top notch: the country & western narrator line dances amusingly while narrating; Ma is the Irish patriarch obsessed with potatoes and her son, farmhand Billy—the innocent foil to the proceedings. Ma may also be suspiciously familiar to those of you who watch Mrs Brown’s Boys. Finally the love-foil Arlene thirsting for fame, but eventually to become the drugged and emaciated Toxic Girl before the plot resolution restores her to the arms of her true love, Billy. In the words of Ma: “Yee’d be an eejit not t’ see it”.
Black Diamond FM
Eejit of Love is an entertaining family friendly adventure with unforgettable tunes.
This loveable cast takes you on a hilarious and sometimes eccentric journey into the murky world of showbiz. Providing entertainment for both young and old alike. With memorable musical numbers, a dastardly money scheming villain and an overprotective Irish Ma. This show will have you laughing from beginning to end.
A must see for families. Follow sweethearts Billy and Eileen on their Shmokey City adventure and let the characters draw you into their story.
If you’ve seen a lot of heavy, emotionally draining theatre this August and now you just fancy a lighthearted romp of a show, then this is the one for you. It’s a new musical, well written with several catchy numbers and a strong cast, originally developed at Greenwich Theatre and produced as part of the Dublin Fringe festival. Fast-paced and uncomplicated, occasionally bordering on panto in style, its lovable characters burst into cheery song from the outset.
We follow sweet young couple Billy and Eileen as they leave their home in rural Ireland, seeking fame and fortune in the world of pop music. Billy doesn’t make the grade, so naive Eileen chooses to chase her dream without him. Before long she learns what the murky world of celebrity can really be like, and begins to understand what matters most to her and where real happiness lies.
Billy’s ‘ma’ pops up every now and again, either to throw a spanner in the works or to save the day, and an American cowboy acts as a sort of singing narrator. This last character is a bit random, but he’s good and likeable – and as the whole piece requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief anyway, it works.
From the description of the show and advertising picture used, I must admit I was expecting something a little trashy and tacky. But I was wrong: the storyline is flimsy, yet it serves as a cautionary tale for a generation obsessed with prime-time TV talent shows. There is a definite social commentary going on here about the emphasis our culture now places on celebrity, and the exploitation which exists in a world where so few have so great a power. The villain of the piece is a Simon Cowell character, who engineers Eileen’s career; it’s all very simplistic and exaggerated, but manages to make the point while keeping it light.
The performances are very good, with the provision of plenty of laughs and some West-End-standard vocals. It’s not the kind of musical I’d personally want to watch repeatedly and it doesn’t have all that much depth, but it’s a thoroughly jolly and enjoyable production suitable for all ages. Toward the end I found myself, along with the rest of the audience, joining in a song about potatoes. Ridiculous, but lots of fun.
Musical Theatre Review
Fiona Orr • 14 August 2015
Somewhat of a summer pantomime, Eejit of Love tells the tale of small-town duo Billy and Eileen’s romance and dreams of ‘making it’ in the music business. A cowboy narrates this tale with a country and western twang, but Jody Trehy’s score is truly eclectic. Eileen and Billy decide to try for ‘Xposure’ – a telly talent show fronted by Pete Popalypse played by Michael Grennell with all the relish of a classic panto ‘baddie’. This pantomime theme continues in Billy’s Ma, played by Donncha O’Dea with more than a passing reference to Mrs Brown.
As Eileen continues her journey to pop fame, Billy returns to his Ma’s farm and here comes one of the highlights of the show – Ma’s rendition of the anthemic ‘Old Potatoes’! The audience waved arms and sang along with gusto – great fun!
The ‘God complex’ of Pete Popalypse – referenced in dialogue such as: “I am the light; I am the way” and “Believe in me; I’m everywhere” – are all the more discomfiting in the surroundings of a church. The sermon of the reaching for the unattainable is illustrated by Eileen’s loss of character in her new persona, contrasted with Billy’s more ‘rooted’ life with Ma.
It’s a pity that backing tracks are used rather than live musicians as this tends to limit performers’ growth within a piece – even just a live piano would have helped. A jolly romp that would appeal to fans of Mrs Brown’s Boys.
Greg Hemphill on the Janice Forsyth Show • 25 August 2015
JF: Let’s start with Eejit of Love. Great title. A musical?
GH: Uh-hm. Eejit of Love was a fantastic show. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it. I saw it at the very beginning of its run and I thought to myself, “If I was a producer, I’d bring this show to Glasgow.” It was a wonderful, great dark parody but it’s disguised as a sort of summer panto about, you know, ambition and about all these kinda… the rise of the reality shows and these Pop Idol style shows. It’s got a fantastic cast. It’s got some great songs and it’s got some lovely kinda Celtic, biting satire…
JF: Irish not Scottish?
GH: Irish, that’s right… Have you seen the show?
JF: I haven’t!
GH: It’s fantastic. Somebody gave it a bizarre review and said they didn’t like it because the show was full of archetypes which I thought was strange because I think they didn’t credit the writers with intelligence. You know, they know what they’re doing… The show in Dublin, I think, was a little bit longer so it’s been stripped down for the Festival but it’s very, very funny… ah… and I saw it with quite a quiet Edinburgh audience that by the end of it were absolutely “about themselves”. You know, the show demands that the audience reacts to it – which is one of its great strengths.
JF: Brilliant. Thank you very much. So that’s a bit of a rave review! Eejit of Love…