Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Outside Mullingar ***

If you are willing to turn off your critical faculties and yield to the skillful manipulations of a master, you can have a good time at John Patrick Shanley's new play at Manhattan Theatre Club. Not for nothing has it been called the Irish "Moonstruck." It too is a rather slight but enjoyable rom-com with a prickly couple at the center. Fortunately Anthony and Rosemary are played by Shanley veteran Brian F. O'Byrne and, in her Broadway debut, Debra Messing, who play well off each other and are joined by two wonderful actors, Peter Maloney and Dearbhla Molloy as Anthony's father and Rosemary's mother. The wisp of a plot involves a spiteful real estate transaction 30 years prior, the alienation between father and son, the loneliness of Irish farm life and a long-smoldering unrequited love. There are some fine set pieces that allow each actor to shine, but for me, a ludicrous revelation in the final scene undid some of the good will the play had earned. John Lee Beatty's set design is topnotch and Catherine Zuber's costumes are fine. Doug Hughes's direction is assured. Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission.

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