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The Giggler Treatment review: A glorious miniature musical that’s great fun for children and adults alike

Theatre: Roddy Doyle’s tale gets a fitting stage adaptation from Fionn Foley – and splendid cast have a blast making it sing

The Giggler Treatment

The Ark

You wait a while for one Roddy Doyle stage show and then two come along at once, to enliven our Christmas no end. While Doyle’s version of Peter Pan lights up the Gate Theatre, across the Liffey at the Ark in Temple Bar, his children’s book The Giggler Treatment gets its own stage treatment by Fionn Foley in a new musical commissioned by the children’s cultural centre.

This is a very silly story involving a lot of poo, a subject that never loses its comedy appeal. It also involves Mister Mac, a biscuit tester at a biscuit factory (surely the best job in the world); Billie Jean Fleetwood Mac, an accomplished stairway-mountain expeditioner; their children, Robbie, Jimmy and baby Kayla; a talking dog, Rover; and multiple little giggling creatures (see instructions to make a Jen Shepherd Giggler from a sock via the programme’s QR code) who connive to punish adults who aren’t fair to children by planting poo in the paths of their shoes.

Foley has taken his favourite book from childhood and adapted it into a stage musical with a sparkly, mischievous script, skippy-zippy songs, nifty harmonies and catchy score to create a gorgeous, glorious miniature musical that is great fun for children aged four-plus but is terrifically enjoyable for adults too. There are multiple laugh-out-loud moments. A bad day at work for Mister Mac involves tasting his least-favourite biscuits, cream crackers. (Cue the dance of the borrrring cream crackers.) There’s a running gag involving an atypical seagull, and many jokes and puns involving poo.

The multitalented ensemble of five – Leo Hanna, Shauna Harris, Leah Kavanagh, Anne O’Riordan and Michael Tient – race in and out of the various characters, narrate the story and sing and dance their way through the meandering action. The plot centres around preventing Mister Mac getting a poo splat he doesn’t deserve and a rescue attempt aided by the surreality of the grumpy, cross-wording, talking border collie Rover.


It’s structured around the chapters of Doyle’s book, until they all lose track of them, and it ends with an act of a plot rebellion. There’s a lot going on in this dense show of around an hour; director Sophie Motley and the splendid cast have a blast making it sing, aided by musical director John O’Brien and choreographer David Bolger. Ciaran Bagnall’s set is a wooden sun incorporating a screen of images echoing the psychedelic, biscuity or poo-y action.

The message: not everything is what it’s expected to be; be fair and kind; embrace the silliness. Foley’s sparkling music and songs do justice to Doyle’s anarchic, silly tale and are true to its spirit, adding another layer of magic. You leave humming “I’ve never dodged a jammy dodger”. Bravo.

The Giggler Treatment is at the Ark, Temple Bar, Dublin, until Sunday, January 7th

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times