The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review

The Pride of Parnell Street

It must have been like a fever. When the team lost, the lads suddenly knew what was what. When the Irish team were winning they could pretend they were winning, but when they lost, they knew they were losers too. — Janet
The Pride of Parnell Street
Aidan Kelly in The Pride of Parnell Street
(Photo: Patrick Redmond)
Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
New York City is putting on green a few months early this year with a five-week festival of Irish theater, featuring the work of 21 playwrights presented by 22 academic and artistic organizations from across the United States and Ireland. 59E59 Theaters began its participation with Spinning the Times, the world premiere of five short plays by five different authors. The plays, each a monologue on some aspect of modern life, present, for the most part, a bleak picture of the violence that permeates the 21st century. Yet these plays were not without the traditional Irish irony and search for humor amidst life's tragedy. Running concurrently, The Pride of Parnell Street is a more ambitious play by Sebastian Barry, directed by Jim Culleton.

Told through a series of alternating long monologues, The Pride of Parnell Street is about a couple, Janet (Mary Murray) and Joe Brady (Aidan Kelly), whose downward spiral begins when Ireland lost its bid for the World Cup Italia in 1990. On that occasion Joe beats the "shite" out of his wife, after which she takes their two remaining children (their son, Billy, had been killed in a vehicular accident) and goes to her parents' house.

Shortly after, Joe gets hooked on drugs, is involved in a murder, goes to jail and contracts AIDS. Janet is now a single mother, raising her kids on the mean streets of Dublin. But it's easy to see through their bitter, painful dialogues that neither their love nor their will to live has died.

The Irish may not have invented grief, but they seem to be better than anyone else at describing the devastating "slings and arrows" Shakespeare made famous. But while their characters relate the loss of love and life, and sometimes even hope, they manage to retain the touch of pride that keeps humanity alive.

Barry's tremendous gift for writing prose that sounds like poetry deserves much of the credit for the power The Pride of Parnell Street conveys. But there's no doubt that the success of this production owes much to the brilliant and moving acting of Kelly and Murray.

Kelly, who seldom rises from his bed, center stage, is variously contrite, bitter and resigned. His most powerful moment may be when he bangs his head repeated on his pillow and proclaims how much he still wants to live. Kelly's genius lies in his ability to play a criminal, an addict and a wife abuser, and still remain unflinchingly sympathetic.

Although Murray's role presents less of a challenge, her performance is equally stellar. Janet is a woman who could easily descend into self-pity or maudlin nostalgia. But Murray never lets Janet never loses her puckish resolve or her sense of humor. Most of all she makes Janet's continuing love for her husband believable and understandable.

The Pride of Parnell Street seems to succeed despite itself. Although it does go on just a tad too long, leaving one with the impression it has several endings before it is finally over, the drama remains compelling through long and circuitous dialogues that could be trying for even the best of audiences. This is a feat that shows strikingly what can be done when a writer, director and actors combine their enormous talent and overcome impossible odds in a real triumph.

The Pride of Parnell Street
By Sebastian Barry
Directed by Jim Culleton
Cast: Mary Murray (Janet Brady), Aidan Kelly (Joe Brady)
Set and Costume Design: Sabine Dargent
Lighting Design: Mark Galione
Composer: Denis Clohessy
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Presented by Fishamble: The New Play Company
59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street between Park and Madison
From 9/1/09; opening 9/8/09; closing 10/4/09
Tuesday — Friday at 8:15pm, Saturday at 2:15pm and 8:15pm and Sunday at 3:15pm and 7:15pm
Tickets: $35 (212) 279-4200
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Sept. 3, 2009
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Pride of Parnell Street
  • I disagree with the review of The Pride of Parnell Street
  • The review made me eager to see The Pride of Parnell Street
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

Try for great seats to
Jersey Boys
The Little Mermaid
Lion King
Shrek The Musical

South Pacific  Revival
South Pacific

In the Heights
In the Heights

Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook

Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide


©Copyright 2009, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from