Naughty Maggie is back and dancin’ again in risque sequel

Caroline Curran as Maggie
Caroline Curran as Maggie

The risqué, sassy and generally very naughty Maggie Muff is back for the next instalment of the Fifty Shades of Red White and Blue trilogy – a local spoof version of the erotica best-seller by EL James, Fifty Shades of Grey.

This stage adaptation of the second of the trilogy of novels by first-time east Belfast author Leesa Harker, which is written in distinctive Belfast slang and doesn’t hold back from candid discussions of the heroine’s sex life - perhaps a first in the prim canon of Northern Irish literature and theatre - is here directed by Andrea Montgomery.

The first instalment of the stage version was a success, filled with hen parties and sold out each night as female-dominated audiences screamed with laughter throughout: Caroline Curran is hilarious as Maggie, and tells it like it is with admirable fearlessness, even when it comes to matters of the heart and matters of the bedroom.

Will Dirty Dancin’ in le Shebeen promise more of the same sauce and romantic misadventure or can we expect a slightly different storyline?

Curran, 29, said: “It’s Big Sally-Ann’s birthday and she wants to do the famous dance from Dirty Dancing in le Shebeen on her birthday.

“Maggie assumes they’ll be dancing together but in the end Sally wants to dance with Igor from Transylvania. But Igor gets deported.

“So now the mission is to help big Sally-Ann and get Igor back in time for her birthday do.”

The actress has a real challenge on her hands, as, like the first offering, this is a one-woman show with Curran conveying a panoply of characters of both genders through accents and gesturing.

“There’s Maggie, wee Sinead from the Falls, Maggie’s mum and big Billy, big Sally-Ann’s brother and mum, Sinead’s brother Anthony and Jake the Peg who Maggie picks up along the way.

“This play is more about friendship than sex. There are obviously some risqué elements – because knowing Maggie she always gets herself into these kind of manoeuvres.”

I ask Curran if she finds talking about intimate matters on stage an empowering act or whether parts of this trilogy, and the EL James’ originals, are degrading to women? At the end of the first play Curran’s vivacity was ripped apart when she was beaten by Mr Red White and Blue, and there were moments when it felt like the play was too cringe-worthy; the audience, at times, laughed out of awkwardness and embarrassment.

But Curran is adamant: “I definitely think it’s empowering for a woman to be able to talk freely about sex on stage.

“In the last play Maggie did take a beating from Mr Red, White and Blue but in this one I think she takes the power.”

l Dirty Dancin’ in le Shebeen, Grand Opera House, Belfast until April 22 with April 19 at the Millennium Forum, Londonderry. The show then Market Place Theatre, Armagh, April 23; Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, April 24; Roe Valley Arts Centre, Limavady, April 25; and Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey, April 26-27.