"Outside Mullingar" at Live Arts Theatre, October 25, 2019 - November 09, 2019
Since the site is not allowing the posting of reviews in its normal place, the backlog of my reviews will be going to the forum
Title: An Inside Job
"Outside Mullingar" takes place in multiple locations, both inside and outside of two neighboring farmhouses. At Live Arts, the set design by Becca Parker and director Scott Piehler handles these locations through a bifurcated set: a wallpapered eat-in kitchen stage left, and an area stage right backed by a wood pallet wall that can function as an outdoor space or, when a tarp and tools are removed, as a bedroom. The floor is painted dark brown stage right and with lighter wood planks stage left. It’s compact, but effective. The two doors to the black box theatre are used for entrances and exits, with the stage left door acting as the inside of the door to a house, while at one point the stage right door acts as the outside of the same door. It’s a clever echo of the housing situation of the Reilly family, which has to pass through gates in two fences to get to the road.
The lighting design by André Eaton Jr. illuminates the separate sides of the stage as needed, with very dim light for some outdoor evening scenes. Scott Piehler’s excellent sound design does a wonderful job of evoking the sounds of a dairy farm during the outside scenes. Mere Jones’ props and Jordan Hermitt’s costumes help to locate the action in Ireland without seeming hokey in any way.
The four-person cast does a fine job of telling the tenuous and extended love story of neighbors Rosemary Muldoon (Allison Epperson) and Anthony Reilly (Justtyn Hutcheson), starting with a discussion between their elderly parents, Aoife Muldoon (BJ Barrett) and Tony Reilly (Jim Nelson). Mr. Muldoon has just died, and Tony Reilly would like to consolidate the neighboring Muldoon and Reilly farms. Tensions and years-old resentments complicate the process. John Patrick Shanley’s script introduces elements that tie things together in a satisfying way, while at first perhaps seeming somewhat random.
Irish accents are used all around, with various levels of success under Dan O’Brien’s dialect coaching. Ms. Barrett’s accent is the most pronounced, while the men’s accents are at times inconsistent. Ms. Epperson’s seems natural, if not terribly strong. They all inhabit their characters well, with the final moments having just the bit of romantic magic the play calls for.
Mr. Piehler has chosen a delightful script and brought it to life on Live Arts’ tiny stage. "Outside Mullingar" had a brief, two-month-long run on Broadway in 2014. It is having an even briefer, two-week-long run at Live Arts. It may not have the heft of Mr. Shanley’s "Doubt," but its deft portrayal of Irish country life is completely endearing.