'Outside Mullingar' A Winner For SBCT PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 11 June 2017 16:55

Every time we sit down in a theater we hope for the best and expect … well, possibly something a little less.

Rarely do we get the best of everything.

Outside Mullingar  South Bend (IN) Civic TheatreSuch a rarity is live and on the stage of South Bend Civic Theatre’s Warner Studio Theatre where its production of “Outside Mullingar” opened to a full house Friday evening.

The multi-layered romantic comedy by John Patrick Shanley, author of award-winners “Doubt: A Parable” and “Moonstruck,” is set in the midlands of northern Ireland on adjoining farms just outside the nearest town, Mullingar. The lives of the farm residents, the number of which is dwindling rapidly, are the focus of Shanley’s touching scenario.

The action (which is primarily emotional rather than physical) begins with the Muldoons — Aoife (Mary Ann Moran) and daughter Rosemary (Dana Vagg-Batusic) — and the Reillys — Tony (Gary Oesch) and son Anthony (Ted Maniefr) — coming to the Reilly home from the funeral of Aoife’s husband.

The two seniors discuss the shortened amount of earthly time left to each and the future of their respective farms, specifically as it affects a possible relationship between their children. Rosemary has been in love with Tony since the age of 6. He is not one to let his feelings be known.

Outside Mullinger  South Bend (IN) Civic TheatreTony’s decision to sell to an American nephew, surprises Aoife, hurts and angers Anthony, especially on hearing his father’s reason, and brings Rosemary to a fierce defense because, as she declares, he (Anthony) is “a bit of a lump” and “won’t push back for himself.”

To sell or not to sell hinges on a small strip of land which holds the right of way to the Reilly farm. At a time when Tony needed money, he sold it to Chris Muldoon. Now, it seems, the Muldoons are not agreeable to selling it back , a deal-breaker for the nephew.

Some years later, problems of the land and the feelings of the two remaining farm owners struggle to resolve themselves. Their final confrontation provides exactly the right answer.

In the hands of a lesser cast and crew, “Outside Mullingar” might be just another Irish fantasy. Not so here.

Director Kevin Dreyer has gathered a cast from the SBCT veteran A-list, each of whom is in exactly the right role. There is not one false note in any characterization. This extends to all the Irish accents.

Outside Mullingar  South Bend (IN) Civic TheatreUnder Dreyer’s sure hand, each develops a solidly real personality, in spite of their secrets which often seem more fantasy than reality.

And their relationships could not be more empathetic.

Even when disagreements are decades long and appear to be far from resolution, the underlying friendships are never lost. Actions and reactions eventually mesh and what seemed absurd becomes the link that puts it all together.

The humor is low key but unmistakable, especially when discussions turn to death and dying, with the seniors particularly stating their opinions in a less-than-portentous manner.

“You’ll be dead within a year,” Tony tells Aoife. “Me? I’ll be dead within two months.”

Anthony and Rosemary share their individual bouts with depression, thoughts of suicide and struggles to stop smoking as well as ideas on the layers of the universe and dealings with the outside world.

“People don’t appeal to me that much,” he admits. “That’s normal,” she agrees. “Who likes people? Nobody.”

Is there any doubt that these two will, sooner rather than later, find each other?

The surrounding darkness of the Warner black box theater provides the perfect backing for set designer David Chudzynski’s earthy, bare bones set pieces which move the action easily from farm to field to farm.

“OUTSIDE MULLINGAR” will be played Wednesday through Sunday in the Warner Studio Theatre at South Bend Civic Theatre, 403 N. Main St. For show times and reservations, call (574) 234-1112 or visit www.sbct.org. Additional performances already have been added.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 June 2017 17:23
 

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