Friday, February 7, 2014

Review - Outside Mullingar

I'm a huge fan of John Patrick Shanley and his plays (oh, and that little screenplay called Moonstruck - that's a good one, too), so when his new play was announced, I got happily excited!  But I kept putting off and putting off getting tickets.  When a gal pal marched into my office and said we needed to get tickets BEFORE it opened and got stellar reviews, I knew she was right.  Last night was the happy night.  Unfortunately, my gal pal couldn't join me at the last minute, so I instead took an extremely handsome gent as my date.  He and I had dinner with another extremely handsome gent beforehand and I'm sure everyone in the Edison Cafe looked at me with envy.

Outside Mullingar did indeed get lovely reviews when it opened a few weeks ago, but I purposefully didn't read them, wanting to see the show without preconceived notions.  Well, except for the preconceived notion that I would probably like the play since I've loved other work by Shanley.  I will have a few spoiler-y things to share below, but I'll keep the big stuff to myself.

I also found Outside Mullingar to be lovely - sweet, tender and slightly unexpected.  Of course, there was the expected conclusion to the romance, we didn't really think these two people wouldn't end up together, did we?  But HOW they got together was just lovely.  It's not often I'm surprised by a plot development, but whoosh, there it was!  And it worked, surprisingly!  Even the slightest hesitation would've unraveled the entire play, but thankfully, that didn't happen.  Throughout the play, the dialogue was touching and real, even when it wasn't easy to listen to. 

The show is beautifully acted by four terrific actors, though, as always, I have my own personal issues with Debra Messing.  To me, she's always working just a little.too.hard, but I acknowledge that's my own personal preference.  Everyone else, including the critics, adored her in this.  But, for me, when she finally let go and just let this interesting character and gorgeous dialogue take over, that's when she was quite affecting.  So there you have it.  Brian F O'Byrne was his usually wonderful self - he's always just so real to me.  His touching awkwardness and absolute agony of revelation was wonderful.  And his scene with his father, played wonderfully by Peter Maloney, was heartbreakingly beautiful.  I told my date that scene is one of the best scenes in American theater I can remember for quite awhile.  So much truth and dignity - oh.  Sublime.

photo credit: Joan Marcus
The physical production was fantastic, as well.  An all-around thumbs up from me - I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Outside Mullingar.  Although basically a sort of rom-com, it was still a story, filled with people, I hadn't seen before.  I had a little cry, I smiled, I understood, I dreamed.  It was great.  I did NOT, however, enjoy my seat neighbors.  The couple to my right ate something from a plastic bag throughout the entire performance.  One piece of something after another.  And not only was the bag noisy, but whatever they were eating was noisy, too.  Ugh.  I know snacking is a time-honored tradition, but please.  For 90 minutes straight?!?!?!  OK, thinking of something else now...

...And, you know, after the play, all last night and into today, I feel a bit misty, a bit more hopeful than I did yesterday.  I didn't really notice it immediately after the play, but it's been building in me.  Hope isn't something I see a lot of nowadays on stage, and sometimes I feel like there's not a lot to be hopeful about right now, anywhere, but hey.  I'll take it.  I'll walk with a little lighter step today and thank John Patrick Shanley for that...

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