Sunday, January 26, 2014

Outside Mullingar @ The Samuel Friedman Theatre

Outside Mullingar is a story of love, death, and seizing happiness told with charming simplicity.  
Rosemary Muldoon and Anthony Reilly have been farming neighbors in Ireland since birth. Throughout her childhood and an ongoing dispute over land with the Reilly’s, Rosemary (Debra Messing), has harbored feelings for the introverted Anthony (Brian F. O’Byrne). The perpetually morose Anthony is blind to Rosemary’s ever growing affection and also has difficulty articulating his own emotions when his father (Peter Maloney) threatens to exclude him from inheriting the family farm. 

The play opens on a rainy day inside the Reilly house, and from the moment the audience enters the home there is a distinct sense of reality thanks to the detailed scenic design by John Lee Beatty.  Clothes piled in one corner, dirty dishes stacked on the table, and running water in the kitchen sink help to draw the NYC theatre-goer further into the truth of this Irish farmhouse. Playwright John Patrick Shanley (Doubt) gives the characters both comfortable and challenging conversations frosted with sweet -- sometimes bittersweet -- humor. This compliments the welcomed pregnant silences during poignant moments that director Doug Hughes allowed the actors.
The cast is solid. Though sometimes difficult to understand through the thick Irish accents, they collaboratively serve both laughter and tears with seamless authenticity. Maloney scores many chuckles as the cantankerous Irish father. His character’s humorous lines are highlighted by Maloney’s “matter of fact” delivery.  O’Byrne is tragically endearing as Anthony. He gives the character life and depth without becoming a cliché. Rosemary is the most colorful of the characters and Messing is enchanting as the chain smoking romantic.
Outside Mullingar makes the heart ache and smile, reminding us to live in the present moment.
“Now, the sky is for now” ~ Rosemary Muldoon/Outside Mullingar
Outside Mullingar opened January 23rd,2014 and is now playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
Photos by: Joan Marcus
Review by: Staci Morin

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