February 17, 2016 / John Domini / cityview
“Outside Mullingar,” at StageWest, will try out a staging no one has seen before. Tim Wisgherof’s set, so rustic that it smells of hay, includes both protagonists’ homes and the Irish countryside between them.
Director Todd Buchacker believes other versions use an ordinary arrangement. The curtain closes on one home at the end of a scene then opens on another for the next.
“Our approach,” says Buchacker, “is an environmental challenge.”
A parallel to the emotional challenge, in a play he and the cast agree “swings from laughter to tears.” The opening is set after a funeral, and in a late rehearsal over at the unused side of the stage, Kerry Skram sat in silent gloom. Yet across the way, the talk among the others at first proved full of laughs. Eventually, though, its melody went sour. Skram’s counterpart, Jonathan de Lima, erupted; his father didn’t appreciate what he’d done for the farm.
With that, John Patrick Shanley’s script sets in motion a skittish courtship between the neighbors. Neither is young anymore, which makes their on-and-off romance “fascinating,” according to Skram.
“They have to deal with so many old pains,” she says.
Yet this long experience, she adds, allows for language that’s “unselfconsciously lovely.” The beauty of the dialog, she says, “never feels false.” Both Buchacker and de Lima call the overall effect “magical” — rather like late love. CV
John Domini is a published local author who has lived on both coasts and abroad and enjoyed theater everywhere. See www.johndomini.com.