By Beki Pineda
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR. Written by John Patrick Shanley; directed by Rebecca Remaly. Produced by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company at the Dairy Center for the Arts (2590 Walnut St.) through Oct. 11. The final four performances (7:30pm Friday, 2pm and 7:30 pm Saturday, 4pm Sunday) are sold out, but a wait list will open one hour before curtain; you need to be there in person. www.boulderensembletheatre.org.
Another late review—another terrific show I hope you’ve seen or have a chance to see on its last weekend!
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR is a sweet, touching story about family and two stubborn people who can’t see what is right in front of them. The play is set in a small landhold outside Mullingar in County Westmeath in the Irish Midlands. Two families (father and son, mother and daughter) have lived side by side for generations, working the same small patches of land. In a rash but romantic moment, the father, Tony, sold a piece of land that was the right-of-way into his farm to Aoife’s husband. So for the past 20 years, every time Tony and his son Anthony wanted to drive onto their own land, they had to get out of the car and open and close two gates. Tony is on his last legs and wants to be able to leave the land to Anthony the way he received it. He’s trying to buy back the small piece he once sold.
Thus starts the story. But it is deep, and encompasses generations of ownership, the love of the land, the power of family, silent longings and secrets. The language is rich, the emotions are honest and compelling, and it feels like a story that could only be told in Ireland. In a scene that will break your heart, Tony confesses to his son why he sold the piece of land in the first place and begs his forgiveness. He tells a love story so poignant and so pure in its innocence that you are emotionally wrung dry by its finish.
A top-notch cast—veteran actors Chris Kendall and Billie McBride as the older generation and Timothy McCracken and Emily Paton Davies as the younger Anthony and Rosemary—demonstrate why they are all in great demand as actors. They bring a surety to each role that allows the raw emotions to be expressed with honesty and confidence. There is no acting; there is only being.
A versatile and clever set designed by Ron Mueller and dressed by Cheryl Brodzinsky takes us both inside and outside the side-by-side houses. As Anthony says, “I can hear your teakettle whistling when I take my shower.” A creative movement of furniture allows one space to serve as both houses, and sliding panels take us outside. The actors incorporated the lilt of the Irish language without making it so Irish that its hard to to understand.
What a lovely tale—what a lovely evening. How I hope every passionate playgoer in Boulder gets to see this show! It has been so popular that two performances were added to the run, and even though they too sold out, there’s always the wait list.
WOW factor: 9