All those little things. Those small, unimportant details. At the end of the day, they mean so much.
That’s what we discover in Outside Mullingar, now running at the Chemainus Theatre Festival.
Two neighbours, Anthony Reilly (played by Garett Ross) and Rosemary Muldoon (played by Emma Slipp) have grown up living beside each other in rural Ireland and have spent decades constructing walls of suspicion and anger between themselves.
This wall-building has been relentlessly aided and abetted by their two living parents, his dad, played by Brian Hinson, and her mom, played by Kathryn Kerbes.
Now, as the two elders near the ends of their lives, it’s time to decide what to do with all that angst, not to mention their two farms, and seek paths to a future that holds some hope.
Hung on this bleak and twisted tree, penned by John Patrick Shanley, are four fully developed characters, portrayed for us with acerbic wit, occasional bursts of gentleness, flavourful bites of humanity and superb timing.
Yes, this is one of those plays whose success depends entirely on the talent of the actors involved, and we’re all lucky with Slipp, Ross, Hinson and Kerbes, and their ringmaster, director Mark DuMez.
Word is out on this one already, too. Chemainus Theatre’s managing director, Randal Huber, told the crowd on opening night that the run, which only continues until Nov. 3, is already 90 per cent sold.
Outside Mullingar crackles with one liners. You’ll be smiling, chuckling, and outright belly laughing quite a bit as you watch the story unfold.
Crusty old Tony Reilly turns out to be guarding a tender secret, and Aoife Muldoon nudges her strong-minded daughter to go for the gusto.
But, the path of true love is a bumpy road. By the end of the play, we’re all ready to give the shilly-shallying Anthony Reilly a good kick up the backside for the way he keeps frustrating the petulant but still patient Rosemary Muldoon. That stone wall between them has to come down, but they only knock a little off when it suits them, and then continue, right to the end, to hide behind what’s left.
What you’ll find in Outside Mullingar is an entertaining play, well-acted by a strong cast.