THE WORD ‘bespectacled’ is usually preceded or followed by the term ‘mild-mannered’, but there is nothing ‘mild-mannered’ about the bespectacled trio of wild women in sequinned mini-skirts that go by name The Nualas.
The Nualas - comedian/author Anne Gildea, singer/actress Maria Tecce, and performer/comic Sue Collins - are bringing their new show, Lock Up Your Husbands!, to the Town Hall Theatre on Friday March 13 at 8pm. Given the title, how dangerous and voracious are The Nualas when it comes to unsuspecting males in the audience? “It’s not us that are dangerous and voracious, it’s them,” pleads Maria Tecce, during our interview. “We’re simply irresistible, like a Cadbury’s Flake and a cup of tea.”
Lock Up Your Husbands! is also being billed as the trio’s “most dangerous show ever”. How so and in what way? ‘Well, there used to a theatre in Bunclody...until we played there,” Maria says. “Let’s just say, short dresses, stage-stampede, flying Y-fronts, flames, explosions. And a restraining order. And more explosions. And some fainting...”
The Nualas deliver their comedy through songs covering a range of styles, which Maria says will take in “baroque, ballad, Brecht, and Slipknot – ye know, eclectic”. While Maria says there will be a couple of the old favourites from The Nualas 1990s era - otr more recent numbers like 'Yummy Mummy Blues'?
Maria says their Town Hall set will be “mainly scintillating, flame-broiled, meaty new material” that will find The Nualas ruminating on “food, electronic pants, and Eileen Dunne”. What? “Nuala is focusing on her lucrative sideline in electronic pants,” Maria explains. “Other Nuala is very concerned about the news: where the hell did Eileen Dunne get her hair done, it’s taken years off her. Final Nuala is doing an awful lot of baking for charity, Meringues for Meningitis, Scones for Crones, Battenburg for Erectile Dysfunction.”
In coming up with their songs, how does the songwriting process work in The Nualas; is it collaborative, or do the ideas of one member predominate? Maria hints at the former, though not in the way you might expect. “We know what you’re getting at, but contrary to recent scurrilous tweets, Phil Coulter never has and never will write any of our songs,” she insists. “Hozier, on the other hand, hasn’t been off the blower.”
Amid all this comedy turmoil, can we count on that one constant, that The Nualas will, as ever, be resplendent in dresses that are sparkly and indecently short? Maria’s reply is “very, and yes”.
The Nualas have earned their place in the iconography of modern Irish comedy, but their style and sense of humour can often be seen as one aimed more at, and understood by, women, with men not always being ‘in’ on the joke. How do The Nualas react to that kind of perception? “You only have to talk to Barrack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, and Enda Kenny to find out how well we go down with world leaders, who happen to be all male,” says Maria.
The Nualas were formed by Anne Gildea in 1995 and were a going concern before seeming to call it a day in the early noughties. However, Gildea and Collins revived The Nualas in 2011, this time with Maria Tecce - who is originally from Boston, and who had already carved out a successful solo career as a singer and actress in Ireland - lining out as the ‘Third Nuala’. How did she come to be involved?
“Well, as I recall there were a few very strong vodka and tonics, a game of Twister, and the promise of pots of cash and very shiny dresses,” she says. “The rest, I have absolutely no idea what happened.” She describes her entry into the Nualaverse as “as a baptism of fire” and her time in the group as “a rollercoaster”, but one she is clearly enjoying. “It has ended up three years of laughter, tears, lots of Diet Coke, and more laughter,” she says.
“What goes on tour stays on tour” it is often said, but what has been the strangest/funniest experience The Nualas have ever had on tour? “Well ,we can’t tell the gory details,” says Maria, “but suffice it to say Hozier, a bottle of tequila, Ed Sheeran, Colm CT Wilkinson, and some poppers.”
The last 12 months have been among the most successful in The Nualas’ career, which saw them go down a storm at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, leading to The Scotsman nominating them one of the top five comedy shows of the Fringe, and a host of glowing reviews. Metro Scotland praised their “staggeringly impressive three-part harmonies and a savage, biting wit”; Chortle.co.uk declared their songs to be “brilliantly and beautifully crafted. My word, this is a laugh of a show”; while EdFringereview called them “saucy, sassy, racy, ridiculous.” Back in Ireland The Nualas sold out their headline gigs at Dublin’s Vodafone Comedy Festival. The trio however, are not letting it all go to their heads. “Yeah, it was all right,” says Maria of their success, “but the trip to the Seychelles was much more enjoyable.”
Looking forward to the future, apart from Lock Up Your Husbands! what other plans do The Nualas have for 2015? “We are developing a film,” says Maria, “a radio series, and a reality cookery programme to be set in Peru, or Boyle, depending on the funding.”
Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 or www.tht.ie