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A CurtainUp Review
Poor Beast in the Rain
By Carolyn Balducci
Georgie is in love with Eileen, the pretty daughter of Steve, the taciturn bookie, even filching a recording of her favorite song, "One Way Love" from a juke box just to make her happy. While Georgie does his best to impress the lovely Eileen, Joe spins highly entertaining yarns about the antics of his wild youth. They both endure the mockery of the sour Molly, the cleaning woman. "Welcome to the ranks of the left behind, Georgie" she scoffs, as she tries to warn him that Eileen is not as innocent as she looks.
While the entire town of Wexford rides the coat-tails of the local hurling team's victory at the All-Ireland Championship, this fleeting moment of glory is over-shadowed by the arrival of an unwelcome visitor. After a ten year absence, Danger Doyle returns to Wexforth to bring Eileen back to London to see her mother, the woman with whom he had run away. This scandal has changed the lives of all the other characters, even his own. By the time the play ends, Georgie will learn that, like her mother, Eileen also prefers "juke box fellows and carnival boys" to ordinary blokes like himself. While Joe's bluster has created a local folk hero out of his former partner-in-crime, in reality Danger Doyle is shackled to the consequences of his adulterous elopement. The play reveals that Danger had run off with Eileen's mother (Steven's wife) in revenge against friends who had not stood by him when he was arrested for a petty crime. Steve, who says he had always hoped he would 'sneak through life unnoticed' has become famous as a cuckholded husband. A sullen man of few words, by the end of the play, his unexpressed agony over Eileen's impending departure becomes palpable.
The caliber of the direction by Terence Lamude is outstanding. The characters' passions sensibilities and self-doubts dance around the Irish Arts Center's small stage like players on a hurling field. The resilient beauty of Tracy Coogan and the comedic skills of John Keating, the two younger actors, merit praise. As Molly, Bernadette Quigley lends depth and insight to the role of a woman so bitter she can neither love nor be loveable ever again. Mickey Kelly brings forth the self-delusion and dishonesty of the good old boy he plays, almost a role within a role. More subtle are the understated and nuanced performances of Colin Lane and Steve Brady, playing men who are mortal enemies yet who have lost the will to fight.
A Handful of Stars, Poor Beast in the Rain and Belfry form Roche's acclaimed Wexford trilogy. All have been produced in Ireland and in England on stage and TV with great success, earning critical praise and many awards. Poor Beast is an excellent choice for New York, where so many of us have roots elsewhere, places to which, for one reason or another, we cannot and will not ever return.
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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