Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 14, 2018

REVIEW: Majestic Theater: “Outside Mullingar”

Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
through April 1, 2018
by Shera Cohen

Photo by Lee Chambers
“Outside Mullingar” is one of those sweet little slice-of-life plays that might remind you of someone you know or, perhaps, yourself. The setting are two small farmhouses in a town in Ireland where everyone knows his neighbor. That can be taken literally, as the cast of four portray characters who live next door, although divided by two fences and a smidgeon of land. The rustic environment is far from bucolic. That, coupled with the physical separation of the farms, makes a significant statement. Greg Trochlil’s staging becomes a “character.”

Advertised as a love story, the play’s outcome is no surprise. That is not very important. What is significant are the extremely effective means by which the actors motivate their characters to the right place at the right time. Margaret Reilly Streeter (Rosemary) portrays an assertive, brash, savvy, 30-something woman. At first, Streeter gives her character nuances of vulnerability. By Act II, the actress proves that Rosemary has such empathy and determination that the audience cannot help but become her sympathetic ally.

Jay Sefton (Anthony) dons the near-opposite personality for his character. Anthony and Rosemary display the personification of oil and water. A commonality is that both are quirky, but in different ways. Isolated, self-conscious, and self-effacing describe Sefton’s Anthony. Yet, his verbal fights with Rosemary reveal powerful emotions. Nearly all of Act II is a taut dialog between these two characters. I felt intrusive watching Rosemary and Anthony’s interaction. And, isn’t that what truly effective theatre is about.

The balance of the cast is actor Ron Komora (Anthony’s father) and Sara Whitcomb (Rosemary’s mother). Both fulfill their roles admirably. However, in my layman’s criticism of award-winning and prolific writer John Patrick Shanley, flaws in Act I reduce Komora and Whitcomb’s performances to stereotypes. Neither the actors nor director Danny Eaton can develop “real” characters given the words in the script. In fact, a good deal of Act I could have been cut, and “Outside Mullingar” would be a fine play.

A word about accents. Not that I am by any means an expert, but listening to the quartet of actors successfully brought me to Ireland.

And, a word about the Majestic. Just when I thought that I had no time in my busy life to see this play, I learned that each show offers two Sunday matinees during its run. The timing was excellent.