Rosebud theatre opens new season with Outside Mullingar.
Rosebud Theatre opened its 2016 season with Outside Mullingar this weekend, and this romantic, perfectly-plotted tale set in the homesteads of two feuding neighbours in the bogs of old country Ireland is charming, wholly satisfying, and undoubtedly weird – but in a very good way.
Outside Mullingar, the most recent tale from the Bronx-born John Patrick Shanley, the Pulitzer, Tony, and Oscar-winning playwright most known for his 2004 play Doubt and for the 1987 film Moonstruck, tells the story of nearly confirmed bachelor Anthony Reilly (Paul F. Muir) and his love-bearing but begrudging love interest Rosemary Muldoon (Heather Pattengale).
The play begins with Anthony and his aging father Tony ( John Innes) returning to their home from a wake (how Irish), where Tony reveals his intention of disinheriting Anthony, his eccentric and effeminate son, who is hardworking and hoping to inherit the farm but loathe to farm life.
Tony wishes to sell the land to a relative in America, who is interested, but unwilling to purchase it because the family does not own a small plot of land which lays between the farm and the road, it having been sold years prior to the neighbouring Muldoons. This physical obstacle seems trite and an easy fix until it’s revealed that Rosemary is actually the deed holder of the strip, and is unwilling to sell it to the Reilly’s because she hasn’t forgiven Anthony for pushing her down on the very same plot as children decades prior.
But when she learns that Anthony’s father is considering leaving the farm to the nephew in America instead of Anthony, Rosemary raises a ruckus and promises she will never part with the deed unless the farm is given to Anthony.
The problem of inheritance isn’t the trickiest obstacle in the play, it actually sorts itself out rather easily – what’s more knotty is the relationship between Rosemary and Anthony, who “makes her feel as if she has a soul” and who she has been turning away suitors for.
From their first encounter it’s clear to all in the audience they are destined to wind up together in this play. But the predictability of this play, which includes a perquisite death and some actually rather resonant existential musings, that would be a turn-off in another story doesn’t actually hurt Outside Mullingar in the slightest
In fact, the perfectly-plotted story arc and the pleasant symmetry of Mullingar’s structure is one of its chief delights. As the plot rolls along just like you think it will, you find yourself rooting for the two to just clinch the deal already while treated to the lyricism of the writing of John Patrick Shanley and to witty language of his characters and the spot-on Irish accents of the actors.
But like most things in the country, love Mullingar is a simple issue.
In fact, when the real obstacle between Rosemary and Anthony is revealed, it’s found to be as easy to traverse as the plot of land which stands between the farm and the road. As illogical and delusional as our reasonings in real life so often and unfortunately are, Anthony’s secret reason for avoiding and rejecting Rosemary’s love can’t be chalked up to any thing as plain as her accusations of his homosexuality or impotence, but are revealed to be something so hilariously mad and odd, but so personal and out of left field, that in the play’s climax and conclusion the audience is left howling in their seats in the state of the strange and rarely achieved happy cry.
Outside Mullingar Theatre until June 11.
kicked off the 2016 Rosebud Theatre season on Friday. The play, starring John F. Muir and Heather Pattengale, follows two Irish lovers as the struggle to untangle the knot of inheritance and love. The play runs until June 11.