John Patrick Shanley the author of DOUBT and MOONSTRUCK has written a new romantic comedy with an odd title OUTSIDE MULLINGAR with an even odder plot that is both quirky and charming.
As charming as it is – mostly due to the delightful cast, set design (John Lee Beatty) and fluid direction by Doug Hughes – quirky wins out. Your acceptance and enjoyment of the production that stars Debra Messing (Rosemary Muldoon) making her Broadway debut (speak up dear – your accent is fine when we can hear it) and Brian F. O’Byrne (who reeks sex appeal with equal amounts of denial as Anthony Reilly) – two middle aged farmers who have grown up on abutting farms and seem to be meant for each other no matter how hard they try to keep themselves apart – butting their heads whenever possible – will depend on how strongly you believe in Leprechauns, shamrocks and pots of gold at the end of rainbows.
The expected rainbow finally appears after lots of rain and ninety minutes of quibbling and squabbling over death and faith and love and a parcel of land – the right of way that the elder Reilly (Peter Maloney) sold to Mr. Muldoon when he was a wee bit short of funds.
Now that Muldoon has died, Reilly needs to get that piece of land back – dealing with the widow Muldoon (Dearbhla Molloy) as referee and her strong willed, chain smoking daughter Rosemary – so that he can sell the farm as he feels his son isn’t meant to be a farmer. Sell it to his nephew who lives in America – but I’m getting ahead of myself…or the plot…
Rosemary is for remembrance and this particular Rosemary remembers all too well that day when she was six and Anthony Reilly (O’Byrne) was fourteen and he pushed her down on this infamous small plot of land (that is the crux of the tale) and has held that grudge ever since. Beware a woman scorned! Especially if she is in love with the one who scorned her.
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR is one of those plays that despite all the obstacles keeping a man and woman meant for each other apart they have to be together and when they eventually as expected do reconcile – like Alice and Ralph at the end of each episode of The Honeymooners – the audience applauds – sentimental and a bit cheesy but it works.
But not until Anthony who had been scorned by the love of his life Fiona shares his secret with Rosemary that he believes will make it impossible for them to be together. The Irish curse came to mind immediately but that’s not it. It’s quirkier and a wee bit silly but nonetheless you’ll enjoy this mild mannered production of home spun Irish humor.
A Manhattan Theatre Club production at The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
Photos: Joan Marcus
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