SOAP Theatre presents Outside Mullingar (pronounced mull-in-GAR) by John Patrick Shanley, April 20-28 at the Fraank Venables Theatre. The play is romantic comedy about death and love that flirts with — and sometimes embraces — Irish cliches galore.
The play is set on the side-by-side farms of the Rileys and Muldoons. Anthony Riley lives with his widowed father Tony, and Rosemary Muldoon with her recently-widowed mother Aoife.
Amid the gallows humour, arguments over inheritance and property disputes, there is a shy romance brewing, all done in the poetic gift-for-gab style for which the Irish are famous.
Tony Riley threatens not to leave his farm to Anthony but sell it instead to his brother’s son, who looks more like a farmer. The news worries Rosemary Muldoon, who has an unrequited love for Anthony, and fears Anthony’s itchy feet will soon carry him away from her. She’s thirty-something, he’s in his forties. Both are single, adrift, depressed. Rosemary calls him “a bit of a lump” and scolds him for his lack of spunk and spark, but it’s obvious she cares for him. And what’s up with Anthony? She’s beautiful, available and right next door, but he seems uninterested. The mystery is why they haven’t gotten together.
Shanley infuses the play with spirituality. Rosemary hates the bible (“They should call it The Book of Awful Stories”) but in this Irish countryside characters hear voices, see “signs from heaven” and are “touched by the quiet hand of God.” Mullingar seems just the place for these quiet comic miracles.
Abridged from SOAP Theatre website and a May 2017 review by Vancouver-based Jerry Wasserman.
More information here: SOAP Theatre’s Outside Mullingar