Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Molly Sweeney

"Molly Sweeney" at The Irish Repertory Theater, February 5, 2011

I haven't had much exposure to the work of Brian Friel, other than the revival of Faith Healer with Cherry Jones and Ralph Fiennes in 2006.  I remember that piece primarily because of the excellent performances turned in by Mr. Fiennes and Ms. Jones, as well as Ian McDiarmid. 

For that reason and that I had yet to see a production from Irish Rep, I was excited to attend Molly Sweeney

If only this production had met my high expectations.  This tale of a woman, blind since early childhood, follows a similar pattern as Mr Friel's Faith Healer, but in this play the monologues of the title character (Geraldine Hughes), her husband Frank (Ciaran O'Reilly) and the surgeon, Mr. Rice (Jonathan Hogan) are randomly interspersed as each characters tells his/her version of the story.  The result is a documentary-style disclosure of the events in Molly's life. 

Director Charlotte Moore has divided the small Irish Rep stage into thirds, characters trapped in their respective boxes and waiting their turn to speak.  The performances were competent and delved into the emotions of the premise, but like the story, they were not compelling.  The medical details are slightly interesting, but I found myself wondering early in the first act why this was a play. The story is neither inherently theatrical nor Irish, inspired by An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales by neurologist Oliver Sacks.

Molly Sweeney has just extended its run through April 10.  Tickets available at The Irish Repertory Theater website.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to hear this. Friel has written some of my favorite plays (*Faith Healer*, *Translations*, and *Dancing at Lughnasa*) but then in other works I think he falls too much into dueling monologues. It works in *Faith Healer*, but that may have led him to think he can get away with it too easily.