Minding Frankie : a Canadian premiere of an Irish adaptation goes straight to the heart!

Minding Frankie : a Canadian premiere of an Irish adaptation goes straight to the heart!


Photo by Lois Siegal. Vivian Burns and Lawrence Evenchick

The narrative voices of Irish novelist and playwright Maeve Binchy that emerge in  Minding Frankie come through with great intensity and enormous emotion in this stage version of a Canadian premier directed by John P Kelly, now on at the Gladstone theater. I attended a preview which was not yet the official opening of the show but because this was the only possible moment  to see the play and as I have always admired Kelly’s work I was not going to miss it.

This  performance which emphasized  the magic of the spoken word enhanced by  soundscapes that brought to life the crying of children,  noises of the city  streets and related moments in space that touched our sense of reality was the result of  a meticulous orchestration  on the part of the whole production team . The story moved  from  Noel Lynch’s origins, the suffering of Stella his former girlfriend who named Noel the guardian and assumed father of her new-born daughter Frankie just before  the mother’s own death from cancer .  This final wish of the mother   brought to life the story of Noel  Lynch Stella Dickson  and eventually called up the presence of  Moira Tierney , an angry social worker who wanted to give Frankie to a foster home where she felt the girl would have a much better life.

Most striking was the sensitive performance by  Lawrence Evenchick who not only maintained  his Irish accent but who was entirely convincing as Noel Lynch the ex -alcoholic so deeply committed to his  relationship with the baby that all his  caring gestures towards that little ball of smelly diapers and powerful lungs gave him the strength to give up drinking but also produced a most believable  baby-father relationship  on stage.   The cuddling of the little bundle , the way he chatted and joked with tiny Frankie,  the way the new papa defended the child from the onslaughts of the social worker always seeking the slightest indication that Noel was not capable of being a good father.  This is certainly one of Evenchick’s most important performances because of the difficulty of such a role and its intense level of overflowing sensitivity  that  completly avoided any trace of  maudlin overacting.

Vivian Burns, as Moira the social worked,  whose compulsive worry  and constant need to  interfere between with Lynch and the child , allowed  the playwright to delve deeply into  Moira’s troubled character, proving how complex the script really is. Some critics have spoken about the inevitable “happy endings” which Binchy  brings to her work but in this case, the ending corresponded to down to earth common  sense,not to any deus ex machina ultra theatrical solution aimed at changing the world or even satisfying the expectations of the audience.

The author’s humbleness is one of the most endearing elements of the show which director John P Kelly respects till the very end.

Minding Frankie is a show that will linger in the minds of parents and would be parents for many years to come.  It plays at the Gladstone theatre until January 26.

A SevenThirty productions show in association with Breda Cashe productions Directed by John P. Kelly

Adapted for the stage by Shay Linehan

Set design by David Whiteley

Lighting and sound designed  by Laura Wheeler

Sound design by Garret Brink

Costume design by Patrice-Ann Forbes



Tickets available at the Theatre

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