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|
...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...