Saturday, April 23, 2011

Molly Sweeney

Last month, my brother was in town one weekend, and he took me to a Sunday matinee of "Molly Sweeney" at Irish Rep. I love going to matinees at Irish Rep because I am often the youngest person in the audience! I'd seen the first New York production of the play, though I had to look up the cast to refresh my memory. Alfred Molina played the husband, and Jason Robards (doing a variant of his old, cranky guy) played the doctor. Whoever played Molly was good, but I had not heard of her.
The play is three intersecting monologues, based on a case study by Oliver Sacks. The characters never interact with each other. In less capable hands than Brian Friel's, it would have been a very long afternoon. But he manages to lure you into these three characters' lives and you could not describe it as "boring" in any way.
This latest production had three truly exceptional actors: Jonathan Hogan (in the photo), Simone Kirby and Ciaran O'Reilly. Where Robards has found little besides bluster and booze, Hogan found a nuanced character who despite his foibles, you rooted for and understood. I've seen him act many times, but never so well as this. Simone Kirby (a replacement late in the run, no less) was luminous as Molly when she was blind, and grew darker and frailer as she reached her end. O'Reilly had a doggedness (very much like an insistent Scotty) that declared his own stake in Molly's recovery, and his fading away as they grew apart. I really can't say enough good things about the three of them, Friel's play, and the direction by artistic director Charlotte Moore (who was manning the box office that afternoon).
Link to the New York Times review above.

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