UD REP Ensemble: THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAN
After witnessing a number of Irish penned plays at UD REP Ensemble, Aisle Say comes to the conclusion this 'Sons of Erin' author/playwright fellowship are a most schizophrenic lot. From George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett to the more contemporary Gabriel Bryne, Brian Friel and now to 'Cripples' author Martin McDonagh, their love for their land is 'just complicated'!
“What would heaven be like? It can't be more beautiful than Ireland.” The writers love the beauty, revere the simple folk but rail at their passiveness against the ruling classes (UK), extol Catholicism in one breathe but are horrified by the oppressiveness it demands relating to one's feelings.
I am amazed and disconcerted by the lack of young people in the audience. The REP is a laboratory for students of theatre. Pretty words on a sheet are one thing. The REP actors give the written word flesh and blood and by the art and character they create, the drive those words without abandon into your soul.
So it is with “The Cripple of Inishman”.Directed at a pretty pace by J.R.Sullivan, the story takes place on a small island. Author McDonagh attacks the stereotypical portrayals of the Irish and their culture like Seinfeld goes after George Costanza. “I've seen nicer eyes on a goat!” “I'll be laying off the whiskey now and again....and at breakfast.” “Did you ever see the Virgin Mary thinkin' aloud? It didn't do her much good, now did it?”
The first reaction to this beautiful theatre is the consistency of dialects. Steve Tague – also a REP actor – has been an exquisite teacher of dialects since the groups inception.
The second reaction is the contortions that Billy (Michael Gotch), the Cripple, must put himself through to realistically portray a seriously handicapped person. His entire hand appeared to have no attending ligaments. Mammy (Carine Montbertrand) continues to astound comically. She is a latter day Imogene Coca.
Teachers, bring hither your students.
Through Feb 12. www.rep.udel.edu 832.2202
WALNUT STREET THEATRE – THE MOUSETRAP
Speak about a kid who stepped in it. Over 60 years ago Agatha Christie's daughter birthed a boy. As a present, Agatha said, “Oh, I'll give him the rights to my new whodunit, 'The Mousetrap' Nothing will come of it.”
On this, the 60th anniversary of the world's longest running play (24,500), Mousetrap Productions has licensed 60 productions world-wide. Walnut Street is one of the few US venues. Seeing it live is the only way audiences can experience the mystery for their has never been a film adaptation.
There lurks a murderer amongst this group of strangers trapped by a snowstorm in the manor house. With each performance, audiences are pledged not to divulge the culprit.
The Walnut's production qualities continue to be excellent. The scenic design by Glen Sears gives off that musty air of the glory of a wood paneled manor house of centuries past.
Mollie Ralston (Jennie Eisenhower – yes, David and Tricia Nixon Eisenhower's daughter) is one of the most gifted triple threats in the region. She's too pretty and talented to be the murderer...but just could be.
Christopher Wren ( Eric Bryant) plays a very flamboyant boarder at the manor. His mannerisms are quite amusing and reminds one of the foppish valet character in 'The Producers.” Christopher does have motivation indeed! He is constantly being criticized for his limp wrists.
Inspector Giles Ralston (Dan Hodge) sports a terrific Cockney accent. But...sacre bleu...he cannot be culpable, he's a law enforcement officer.
'The Mousetrap' is one for the bucket list. Next up is 'Ethel', the life of Ethel Waters.
Running thru March 4. WalnutStreetTheatre.org 215.574.3550