This past Thursday, the Little Lake Theater held its opening presentation of John Patrick Shanley’s, Outside Mullingar. My wife and I arrived with only moments to spare; we were shuffled to our seats which, as expected, consisted of a table with two chairs. The Little Lake Theater, for those who do not know, offers theatergoers a light menu that ranges from a Fruit and Cheese Platter to desserts that change with the show, this time: their famous Black and Tan Cupcake. Being an evening show, you may enjoy the benefit of this simple, yet tasteful cuisine, and the prices are more than fair, hence, partake.
Being opening night of Outside Mullingar, the first-nighter’s were eagerly awaiting the dimming of the lights. It did not take long before the theater went black and the audience hushed as the characteristic melodies of Ireland began to dance about the theater transporting our imaginations unto the beautiful greenery of the ancient island of Ireland.
The lights ignite brining to life the home of Anthony and Tony Reilly as brought into being by Eric Leslie and Bill Bennett, respectively. These two, Son and Father bring fireworks to the stage with their bickering and battling that takes the audience to hysterics. The biggest point of contention between the two, revolves around the farm. The two clearly love the family acreage, and yet the father refuses to believe his son holds it dear. Anthony, stands as a simple man who reveals little of the passions that rage beneath the surface. His father accuses him of not loving the land, of not being a part of the land.
He says, if you cannot love the Land then you cannot be a Reilly. The old man accuses him of being a Kelly, his now deceased wife’s maiden name. He claims he has the Kelly face, and as a result he’ll not be leaving him the farm. The tension between the two rises and the neighbors Aoife and Rosemary Muldoon, as played by Martha Bell and Jennifer Sinatra respectively, are sucked into the discordant household.
The Farm, the tension, the life and the death of loved ones, and subsequent love denied between Rosemary and Anthony are set as the main conflicts of this very emotional play. As the dynamics unfold laughter abounds, as do tears from the heart. The audience remains glued to the stage throughout the play. The actors offer up imaginative and powerful performances.
As the action unfolds, the older generation passes from life leaving the two, Anthony and Rosemary, to their devices. They spend their time hiding the love they hold for each other. In the end, dramatic twists involving a metal detector and a lost ring figure prominently in the resolution of the conflict of their romance. At one point, Anthony enters Rosemary’s home, and surprising, the metal detector malfunctions. It begins squeaking and squawking, and thoroughly disturbing the actors as they attempt to deliver their lines. Now, many actors could falter at this point, but not these two as they simply ad-lib bringing the crowd to roars of laughter and saving the show.
Outside Mullingar takes a raw look into the unknown lives of traditional Irish folk. The show takes the audience through a panacea of emotions, and they do it with exquisite perfection. Everything about the show made me feel that I had traveled to Ireland, they even brought the gloriously hypnotic sound of rain on a tin roof created with real water into the theater. The sound added so much realism to the show, but the thing that brought the greatest joy for me had been when I turned to my wife where I fell into her amazingly emerald eyes that were puddled with tears as she took in the movements and lines of the actors. They had brought the glory of the story to life for her, and for that I can never thank them enough.
If you haven’t yet made your way to this Little Lake Theater then make this August your month to do so and Outside Mullingar should be the show you see. Enjoy your travel and bring a rain coat. You might be surprised how real the rain can be.
Special thanks to the Little Lake Theatre for complimentary press tickets. For tickets and more information click here.
Performance Date: Thursday, July 30, 2015