Outside Mullingar: A pleasant evening’s entertainment

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Photo: Black Sheep Theatre

Outside Mullingar
By John Patrick Shanley
Black Sheep Theatre Company
Directed by Dave Dawson

It is no surprise that a romantic comedy set in Ireland should focus on a land dispute between neighbours and begin on a rainy night in the aftermath of a funeral. Neither is it unusual for the talk to center on death: Tony, the professional curmudgeon on one side of the fence, predicts that Aoife, the widow next door, will die within the year and adds that he does not expect to live more than two more months.

Both predictions are correct (yes, this is a comedy — Irish style). Before the two months are up, Tony delivers his zinger: he does not intend to leave the family farm to his only son, Anthony, because he fears that the young man will never marry.

Aoife’s daughter, Rosemary, who has lived on the neighbouring farm all her life, is not about to let that happen because it would interfere with her own plan of cementing a land deal through romance.

The plot line of Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley (best known for such award winners as Moonstruck, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and Doubt) is predictable — we just have to wait a while for the reluctant lovers to seal their future with a kiss. The reason that Anthony gives for being afraid to marry is ridiculous. Neither detracts from the lyricism, sentimentality and general sweetness of the charming script.

This is particularly true in the hands of the well-chosen cast, smoothly directed by Dave Dawson. Vince Carlin as Tony and Beverley Wolfe as Aoife are highly effective in depicting the older generation. Kate Smith is suitably feisty as Rosemary, as she tries to extract commitment from a reluctant Anthony, who is equally effective in his portrayal of the oddball and least confident member of the quartet.

Backed by a workable, economical and suitably dingy double set, offering four playing areas, the Black Sheep Theatre Company production of Outside Mullingar provides a pleasant and gentle evening’s entertainment.

Outside Mullingar continues as the Gladstone to May 6.

Director…………………Dave Dawson

Set and lighting………….Carolyn Barnes

Sound……………………Steven Lafond

Costumes………………..Patrice Forbes

Cast:

Tony…………………….Vince Carlin

Anthony…………………Daniel Gervais

Rosemary………………..Kate Smith

Aoife…………………….Beverley Wolfe


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