The Man in The Woman’s Shoes is a one man show written and performed by Mikel Murfi.
Pope John Paul I is not long dead, autumn is closing in and Pat Farnon has ‘some business’ to do in town. Set in Ireland in October 1978, The Man In The Woman’s Shoes follows the life of Pat Farnon as he walks to town and back again.
Funny, tender and at times downright daft, this beautifully observed piece has toured across the USA and Ireland, including a sell-out run at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
Mikel Murfi recently answered a few questions about The Man in The Woman’s Shoes.
What can you tell us about Pat Farnon and The Man In The Woman’s Shoes?
Pat Farnon is a cobbler – a gentle, quiet man. He lives 5 miles from town. In The Man In The Woman’s Shoes, he walks those 5 miles to deliver a pair of shoes, which he has repaired, to a redoubtable woman called Kitsy Rainey. It’s a really sweet piece that celebrates older folk in society. It was originally a commission for me to make work with active retirement groups in my home county of Sligo. They were great fun,those folk, so the piece is fairly daft and very funny.
Written in 1978 – is the storyline still topical or have you ‘modernised’ it?
So, the piece is set in 1978 . I wrote it in 2012. I was writing with a sense of nostalgia for the late 70s and that helped me tap in to the sensibilities of the people I was writing for. A Pope had died in 1978 so that provided us with plenty to talk about. It’s a suitable backdrop for the whimsy and drama that unfolds. Irish people, a dead Pope and copious amounts of tea …
What are the upsides and downsides of working in a one-man show?
Honestly, there were no downsides on this one. I loved working with all the history groups and writing groups. I got to meet some great people and to get to record their stories, to make a play with their help. To be able bring that show back to them in their community halls or daycare centres etc was really affecting for me in a positive way. Mighty craic to be honest. It was a complete change from some of the work I’ve been making lately with the likes of Enda Walsh !
Performed in Ireland, New York, London. what’s the appeal of The Man In The Woman’s Shoes?
I think it’s the simplicity of the story and the fact that there’s something really authentic about it. It’s also very funny. Even though nothing terribly dramatic happens people are really won over by the central character. He’s the most ordinary of men in some ways and yet he can see the extraordinary in everything. I think people who encounter him are uplifted by him and validated in their own lives by his outlook on life. There are no cultural boundaries.
Away from the stage what do you like to do to chill out?
I love doing nothing ! If I can walk really, really, slowly by the sea, quietly and not think about too much I’m really happy. It relaxes me no end.
Back on the stage – why should everyone spend their hard-earned £ to see the show?
Ah Ha! The million dollar question. Come because we’ve played to sold-out houses everywhere and we’d love a London audience to see it at the Tricycle in Kilburn . The reaction has been universally really fantastic, including five lovely stars from the New York Times – I think there’s something special about it… it’s a beautiful, simple, unapologetically sentimental validation of an era that’s about to pass. It’s uplifting… it’ll do your heart good… How’s that sound ?!
It’s difficult to say much more about this short and sweet piece without potentially running into spoiler territory, but I will say this. It’s utterly delightful and very charming, and an absolute pleasure to see.
Chris Omaweng, LondonTheatre1 Read the full review here
The Man in the Woman’s Shoes
Written, performed and directed by Mikel Murfi
Producer: Eithne Hand for Loco and Reckless Productions Ltd
Mon 4th April 2016 – Saturday 23rd April 2016