OUT TO LUNCH: Gerry and the Peace Process

Gerry and the Peace Makers offer satire, song and merriment, finds Anne-Marie Marquess

A sell-out at the Dublin Fringe Festival, Gerry and the Peace Process played to a packed house at Belfast's Black Box. Directed by Liam Hourican and David Crann, it's a hilarious show and did not disappoint.

If, like many people, you have grown tired of NI politics, you're likely to find the light-hearted approach highly entertaining. A mixture of comedy, acting, singing, dancing, special effects and interactive media, the show packs a punch, with plenty of laughs.

A satirical, often surreal musical, the show transforms the politics of the last few decades into a striking comedy with clever references, caricatures and characters that will crack you up. It's one of the funniest things I have ever seen, or heard.

'Don’t interrupt me. I didn’t interrupt you,' Gerry constantly protests. He and Martin McGuinness are a couple who bicker a lot. Martin cooks the tea, cleans the house and reads the reports. Gerry’s the party animal, hanging out with Stringfellow and going to all the social events. But Gerry also has a sensitive side, he’s new age and into his holistic therapies. Martin’s the practical one.

John Hume appears as a gadget maker. Ian Paisley is now a puppet. McGuinness morphs into Gollum in a The Lord Of The Rings nightmare sequence. Orangemen sing and dance to the Oompa Loompa song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when the broadcasting ban is lifted Gerry does MTV Cribs and President Clinton calls from time to time. The Mitchell Principles are shown on the screen with occult undertones, and there's even elements of The Wizard of Oz thrown in.

There’s lots of references to the Good Friday Agreement, Gerry recalling how it was brilliant, 'like a massive sleepover'. We have a funny scene from West Side Story highlighting a trip to America, one side singing 'You’re hot if you’re a mick in America,' the other 'if you’re prod you’re a prick in America'. Gerry loves his trips to the USA, even if Ken Maginnis doesn’t.

When Gerry is in Dublin with the Parnell Square set, he falls for the charms of Mary Lou McDonald. On the roof looking at the view she says, 'Isn’t it wonderful? Look at it, Stringellows, China town.' Gerry says, 'Yeah Dublin’s really becoming a multicultural place. I embrace that.' She asks him, 'Do you think we’ll ever have a united Ireland?' 'I dunno,' he replies. 'I’ve never really thought about it.'

We get a rendition of Grease's 'Summer Lovin’ (Far from Belfast)' with 'Tell me more, Tell me more, like does he have a gun?' and 'They got friendly on campaign trail, he’s so dangerous, he’s been in jail.' But the bubble soon bursts when Martin interrupts Gerry, reminding him he has a wife. But he reassures Mary. 'OK, I do actually have a wife. But no-one’s actually seen her.'

Gerry and Martin meet the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. It’s very serious. There’s been a break-in at the Northern Bank. Gerry’s not comfortable. You’re not suggesting... 'Look Gerry, we all saw you on MTV Cribs.' 'Yes,' he says, 'but the bank owns the house.' The Northern Bank?

Gerry and the Peace Process is a must-see for any comedy lover, or anyone in need of lots of laughs. It's like Spitting Image crossed with Fools on the Hill.  A thorough knowledge of NI's history would help but is optional. Politics have never been this funny, this show definitely gets my vote.