Produced by: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
Directed by: Robert Kelley
Featuring: Steve Brady, Rod Brogan, Lucinda Hitchcok Cone, Jessica Wortham
Running time: 100 minutes, no intermission
When: October 5 through October 30, 2016
Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, California
Tickets: $19-$80; call (650) 463-1960 or visit www.theatreworks.org
collected in 'Outside Mullingar'
of deeply fun play by John Patrick Shanley
It's possible to dig into the heart of "Outside Mullingar" and find universal truths and timeless meanings about love, family, selfhood, and home.
Also, it's possible to just sit in the audience as John Patrick Shanley's delightful play and be thoroughly entertained for 100 minutes, laughing almost constantly at the witty dialogue and the sparking clashes between the four endlessly argumentative Irish farmers.
It's a very charming time in the theater.
Steve Brady, who was excellent in "The Great Pretender" at TheatreWorks in 2014, is Tony Reilly, a cranky, stubborn old farmer who has a lot of pride in his family name, but not so much faith in his son, Anthony, who has too much Kelly (his mother's family) in him.
Anthony is played by Rod Brogan, who was seen in "Other Desert Cities" at TheatreWorks in 2013. Brogan plays Anthony as a man who uses his gruffness to hide his insecurity, his sweet emotionality, his love of the land — and a couple of other secrets. It's a fine performance that builds wonderfully through the play.
Lucinda Hitchcock Cone, who's been seen in several TheatreWorks productions, is excellent as Tony's elderly neighbor, Aoife Muldoon. She and Brady are terrific at batting Shanley's hilarious dialogue back and forth, all delivered with fine, Midlands Ireland brogues.
"You'll be dead in a year," Tony tells Aoife. "The fruit looks good, but the worms keep at their work."
Jessica Wortham is wonderful — really wonderful — as Rosemary, daughter of Aoife. She comes in like a storm and stubbornly lives as she pleases. (She was Kiddo in the New Works reading of "Upright Grand" in 2011.)
The two families have been neighbors all their lives, and are drawn together in the first scene after attending the funeral for Aoife's husband. Now that he's gone, Tony wants Aoife to finally sell him the narrow strip of property she owns that forces him to go through two gates to move between his properties.
He wants to sell the farm to a relative in the United States, because he thinks there is something wrong with his son Anthony.
She can't sell it, Aoife says, because it doesn't belong to her. It belongs to Rosemary.
And Rosemary won't sell it because she's still mad about the time when she was six years old, and thirteen-year-old Anthony knocked her down on the lawn. Thirty years ago.
It turns out the worms had been doing their work, on both of the elderly ones, and before long they are both dead, and Anthony and Rosemary are left, each alone, for years, in their own homes in the lonely Midlands.
Wortham is a wonder to watch at Rosemary, who loves to smoke when we first meet her, but who gives it up when Anthony says something mildly critical of it. Which makes her cranky as hell, but maybe that's what helps push the two of them together.
Because while she'd known she loved Anthony since she was six, he was too "cracked" to know that he loves her, too.
The dialogue, the dynamics, the action of their relationship is astounding and delightful to watch, and by the end of the show we are charmed into long-lasting smiles.
It's a great show. Kudos to Shanley, who also wrote "Moonstruck," "Doubt: A Parable" and other plays and screenplays.
Director Robert Kelley digs out all the jewels of this fine script and polishes them for us. Andrea Bechert's turntable set and cloudy backgrounds are excellent.
Lighting by Steven B. Mannshardt takes us from homey interiors to cloudy exteriors. Cliff Caruthers' sound design is excellent; it's raining most of the time and we are surprised we are wet from the downpour when we leave the theater.
B. Modern's costume design was like a tour of Midlands Ireland.
Dialect coach Kimberly Mohne Hill had everyone sounding consistently Irish, and Leslie Martinson and Alan Filderman combined forces to pick this fine cast.
Email John Orr at email@example.com