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A CurtainUp Review
Anthony Lawton, does an astonishingly good turn as an odd, distanced guy, bereft of the Irish gift of gab, who prefers hiking the fields to trying to talk to people. And Kathleen McNenny comes on strong as a rather angry woman who expresses herself in no uncertain terms about things she doesn't want. Nevertheless, when it comes to what she does want, she hasn't been forthcoming.
I am convinced that actors David Howey and Beth Dixon, multifaceted veterans, can do anything.
The production favors an accent on accents, but the primacy of accent isn't so important when the actors are all quite wonderful and the language itself says it all. A light brogue all around would have been just fine, keeping the audience focused on the deeper aspects of the characters.
The scenic design, so simple in concept that you might not realize how ingenious it is, fits the tale perfectly. Three smallish sets will descend separately in front of a big sky and a country boundary wall of rocks. There's an outside building view and two kitchens. The almost mirror-twin kitchens, companion pieces in Jason Simms' design, feel like the old country.
Irish music opens the show and then comes and goes. Christopher Colucci's sound design includes a recording of the enchanting Irish harp piece, Eleanor Plunkett, performed by Jay Ansill.
John Patrick Shanley's gentle, yelling, poetic and increasingly bizarre little play pairs an unlikely immovable object with an irresistible force in an utterly charming story in which the details make less sense the more you learn about them. But the fact that it's set in the middle of Ireland, where wisps of Celtic magic may still murmur through the earth, makes it easier to believe. This is a good play for the holidays, when we all could use a whisper of belief.
To read the review of the New York production, which includes a list of links to other Shanley plays reviewed at Curtainup, go here