Friday, January 24, 2014

Outside Mullingar

In John Patrick Shanley's Outside Mullingar, Brían F. O'Byrne plays a pathologically shy, quietly quirky farmer named Anthony, whose family farm abuts the one owned by Rosemary's family. Rosemary (Debra Messing) is also quirky, if somewhat more extroverted, and she smokes heavily. There is a long history of tension between the families, and both Rosemary and Anthony have their own misgivings about inheriting their respective farms when their parents die off. Despite all the baggage, will these two solitary misfits find one another--and love--as they enter middle age?

Of course they will, you dumbass. Otherwise, there'd be no play.

Seriously, and with all due respect to the cast and company, that's all I've got on this one. Outside Mullingar is a light, pleasant show that is nonetheless rather thin for its attempts at mining the strained relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children....and Neighbors with Family History. The play is about as deep--if also about as sweet--as one of those snack-packs of chocolate pudding. O'Byrne is typically committed and engaging as a performer. Messing, making her Broadway debut, holds her own, can do a pretty convincing and consistent Irish accent, and is dressed way better than she ever was in "Smash." Peter Maloney and Dearbhla Molloy are solid and convincing as Anthony's dad and Rosemary's mom. The set is nice, and so is the direction. John Patrick Shanley, celebrated playwright that he is, has written a pleasant enough little love story about his ancestral home. The audience I saw it with was appreciative. But for all that, I left the theater feeling that when it comes to Mullingar, there is in fact no there there.

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