BOOM? by Isobel Mahon

Directed by Caroline FitzGerald




Selma Mae (Isobel Mahon) is riding the boom, or so it appears to friends and family. She has a perfect husband, perfect kids, a perfect home.
But, when her social-climbing Mother, Carmel (Maria McDermottroe), ‘helpfully’ organises a bash to celebrate her new state-of-the-art extension, Selma begins to wonder who’s life she’s living after all. As the odd assortment of guests; glamorous neighbour Chloe (Claudia Carroll), career-girl sister Maeve (Aisling O’Neill), and the eccentric Bernie (Rose Henderson), begin to assemble, it becomes obvious that Carmel’s dream of an elegant ‘do’ is fast descending into chaos.
The night unfolds, old secrets are shared and facades begin to crack. The Boomtime girls are forced to recognise that behind the gloss, true friendship proves the only solid foundation.

This play has just finished a run in the Gaiety Theatre Dublin and is currently playing at the New York City Center Stage II under the title Party Face directed by Amanda Bearse and starring Hayley Mills  – tickets until 8 April 2018.


March 30, 2018

by Chris O’Rourke – The Arts Review


Secrets and Lies

Secrets run rampant in Isobel Mahon’s comedy “Boom?” where five women discover that keeping things hidden is a lot harder than you think. With some incredible comic moments, wonderfully observed humour, and some stellar performances, “Boom?” often delivers big on the belly laughs.

Set over the course of a single evening, “Boom?” sees tales of disappearing husbands, psychiatric hospitals, old affairs, and new friendships gathering for a party in Selma Mae’s newly constructed extension. Mum Carmel, a wannabe Yummy Mummy at sixty three, prances about in her leopard print leggings finding fault with everything and everyone, especially her two daughters. Only Chloe, Selma Mae’s tasteful neighbor from two doors down, is above reproach. As ephemeral as she is pretentious, Chloe from Cork is the height of sophistication in Carrickmines in 2006. Mother of a suburban terrorist, her art appreciation might not be all it could be, but Chloe knows everything about anything, from the proper way to judge wine, the dangers of allergens, to guided meditations to find your inner door. Selma Mae’s wine swilling, no nonsense sister, Maeve, thinks Chloe is for the birds. But that privilege might have to go to Selma Mae’s newest acquaintance, Bernie, an MDOC (manic depressive obsessive compulsive) with a penchant for cling film. As the night progresses, and alcohol flows, pipes are not the only things to burst, as the lies that disguise give way to secrets untold and decisions will have to be made about what happens next.

Mahon’s script is laced with observational humour of such finesse that you simply want to bask in it.   “Boom?” is at its most engaging best when it lets its five women just be free to talk wine, talk spiteful, or to talk behind one anothers back. Isobel Mahon as Selma Mae, a woman with some thinking to do, forms the gravitational centre around which everything revolves. As well as playing straight woman to a delightful Maria McDermottroe as her eternally judgmental, socially ambitious mother, Carmel. Claudia Carroll as the paragon of pretension, Chloe, and Aisling O’Neill as the under used, straight talking Maeve, are pure comedy gold. Carroll sets them up and O’Neill knocks them down every time with the timing and precision of seasoned comedy veterans. A scene stealing Rose Henderson as Bernie, Blowly, Bunty, or any other B name you can probably think off, is simply fantastic as a kind of Lear’s fool, as wise in her madness as the others are mad in their apparent wisdom.

There’s a reason why “Boom?”, entitled “Party Face” in the US, has proven to be hugely popular in New York. And it’s not just because it stars Hayley Mills. It’s because Mahon’s comedic script provides some smart commentary on boom, and post boom, Ireland. On mothers and daughters, and the fads, failings and friendships that exist between five wonderfully engaging women. And of the pressures, self inflicted and otherwise, they struggle with. This production provides generous amounts of laughter, some exquisite comic performances, and an enjoyable evening out with the girls.