If you’ve seen Moonstruck or Doubt: A Parable (produced by The Citadel Theatre in 2009 and University of Alberta Studio Theatre in 2011), you’ll already know that playwright John Patrick Shanley is a master of writing sharp and coherent dialogue, and at bringing life to slightly broken, but beautifully accessible characters.
Outside Mullingar is a story sown in the shifting boundary between generations and rooted in the depth of each generations’ connection to land and culture. Shanley explores how these forces influence the way that the characters love, live, and ultimately pass on.
Two generations of two families struggle with long-standing grief, misunderstandings, and an all too human inability to admit the truths that they hold most close to their hearts. The story unfolds against the backdrop of the economic boom turned to bust in contemporary Ireland.
That latter bit should sound familiar to an Alberta audience. But in addition to this economic common ground, there is the ubiquity of love and the generalities of grief and grievances to pull the audience in.
I asked leads actors, Jenny McKillop (Rosemary) and Garett Ross (Anthony), what specifically about their characters they thought an audience might connect with.
Garrett is an Edmonton theatre veteran. He played David Poe in Jonathan Christenson’s Nevermore, which made it all the way to New York, and is just off a run with The Citadel Theatre’s Shakespeare in Love. Garrett believes his character, Anthony, is an “emotional dreamer trapped in the body of a farmer” whose connection to the land and sense of duty to preserve what that land signifies is something many Albertans will recognize in themselves.
Jenny too is a familiar face for Edmonton theatre-goers, having worked with Teatro La Quindicina and Theatre Prospero. The sweetest glimpse into her character, Rosemary stands within the line: “For me, for me you idjit boy,” in which Rosemary reveals both the source of a 30-year-old inter-family grievance and the reason for her own character’s bruised heart. It is that theme of unrequited love Jenny thinks will be universally accessible.
It seems certain that Shadow Theatre’s production of Outside Mullingar, although set in Ireland, should ring true for an Edmonton audience.
See Outside Mullingar for the timeless tale about the fragility and strength of the bonds of land, family and a patient devotion fate. See Outside Mullingar for the mastery of story and language that Shanley achieves in this master work. See Outside Mullingar to enjoy some homegrown talent—not just McKillop and Ross, but the whole cast and founding members of Shadow Theatre, who have long-standing ties to Edmonton’s vibrant theatre scene.
Until Sun., Mar. 25