Two weeks ago, I made my way to PURE Theatre in the cold rain, desperate for a dose of sunshine. Not until today did I really realize how much I missed the way Charleston glows in the spring. Luckily, two weeks ago—when it was still miserable—PURE provided the vitamin D I so craved with their production of Outside Mullingar.
The introverted Anthony Riley lives on the family farm in the Irish countryside. His father, Tony, is elderly and sick, and the question of who the farm will be left to is being debated. Anthony’s father doesn’t seem to think that Anthony loves the farm enough to keep it going. He suggests that they just sell it to some American cousins and Anthony keep the proceeds.
The subject of the farm has come up because the two have just come from the funeral of Christopher Muldoon, an old friend and the owner of the neighboring farm. His widow, Aoife Muldoon, is visiting with the Rileys as her daughter Rosemary smokes outside. You learn from Aoife that Rosemary holds a grudge against Anthony from when they were children. Apparently, when Anthony was 13 and Rosemary was 6, he pushed her to the ground one day, and she has hated him ever since.
PLOT TWIST. Shortly after this fated incident, her father (the recently departed Christopher Muldoon) sold little six-year-old Rosemary the tiny plot of land where it occurred. This plot just so happens to be located right in front of the Rileys' house, which means that Tony can’t sell the farm until Rosemary decides to sell him that plot of land.
This is as far as I want to go with "plot points" because I feel this is all you will need. This play is warm and springtime-y, but the real substance of the story comes from the setting, Ireland, and all that it implies. The playwright, John Patrick Shanley, is known for catching this "essence" of the Irish in his plays. To me, it brings visions of rolling green hills, traditional music, Guinness, dark humor, and wisdom, as well as the occasional #casual leprechaun. This play includes the Guinness, green hills, and a delightfully dark approach to the subjects of death and love. Just being in the theater felt like being out in the hills—you could almost hear the bees buzzing and the breeze blowing. This play is the perfect celebration of St. Patty’s, as well as the celebration of spring’s highly anticipated arrival in Charleston. Perfectly timed PURE, per usual. This production features an ensemble cast of four PURE Ensemble members—David Mandel, Erin Wilson, Randy Neale, and Cynthia Barnett—and is directed by PURE co-founder Rodney Lee Rogers.
Outside Mullingar runs through March 28 at PURE Theatre on King Street~ Tix available at the box office or at www.puretheatre.org