‘Outside Mullingar’ is full of Irish wit
“Outside Mullingar” is a play involving four characters in the Irish countryside. Scripps Ranch Theatre has rolled out this production full of wit and humor, and is presenting it on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 18.
Director Kathy Brombacher provided a delightful description of the story, written by American playwright Patrick Shanley, who created the plot based on a trip he took to Ireland to observe his family’s roots.
“It involves two families: A father and son who live on a farm, and a mother and daughter who live on an adjacent farm,” Brombacher explained. “These are people who have grown up and live in the countryside.
“They have an ongoing feud between the families over land. The father and son live on a farm where the access to get into the farm is blocked by gates because there’s a strip of land that belongs to the adjacent farm.”
Part of the story is about the land feud, but the biggest part of the story is the romantic attraction between one family’s daughter and the other family’s son. Perhaps it can be described as a miniaturized Irish version of the Hatfields and McCoys, but with clever barbs and banter.
“They have never acknowledged that they were interested in each other as they were growing up, but as their mother and father reach the age where they’re talking about turning over their farms to their children, they (the children, now adults) rediscover that attraction to each other,” Brombacher said. “But there’s so much more that comes in between.”
All four characters are very interesting individuals; very close to their families, their faith and the land, she said.
“There is philosophy about life and there’s great, prickly adversarial kinds of things going on between people,” Brombacher explained. “And there’s humor. They love laughing … and they love making fun of everything around them because there is so much rain, and they are surrounded by cattle and sheep. They become very witty characters to listen to. … They have a bit of Irish whiskey or Guinness and they tell wonderful stories.”
The four actors pulling off these challenging roles include Dagmar Fields, who plays Aoife Muldoon, the mother; and Vanessa Dinning who plays Rosemary Muldoon, the daughter. Jim Chovick plays Tony Reilly, the father; and Stephen Schmitz portrays Anthony Reilly, the son.
Besides directing a play that only involves four characters, and the challenges that come with helping actors master an Irish lilt, Brombacher said preparing the set was interesting because the play revolves between two places: Tony’s farmhouse and the Muldoon kitchen. Brombacher credits scenic designer Bob Shuttleworth with doing an incredible job building sets with little pieces of Ireland injected within the cramped quarters of the stage.
Overall, Brombacher stated that she feels fortunate to be involved in this production with a script of such depth.
“It’s been great uncovering the layers in the script,” she said. “The actors have been very thoughtful and imaginative in building that feeling of life in the families.”
“Outside Mullingar” runs on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Feb. 18 in the Legler Benbough Theatre on the Alliant International University campus, 9783 Avenue of Nations. Visit scrippsranchtheatre.org.