by Lynn on March 6, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Campbell House Museum, 160 Queen St. W.

Written by Conor McPherson
Directed by Rod Ceballos
Cast: David Mackett
Antony MacMahon
Patrick Monaghan

Three generations of men muse, remember and lament what’s happened in their lives.

The Story. Kevin is a young man who has decided to leave home for the first time and share a house with a mate and a woman named Clare. Kevin’s leaving home was not acrimonious. He just needed to get out on his own. The house mate proves to be a bit of a bore, but Kevin is smitten with Clare who already has a boyfriend. Kevin pines for her in a sweet way. They become friends but you know Kevin wants more. He just doesn’t say it to Clare.

Dermot is middle aged and an alcoholic; a sad man who can’t keep a job and it’s soon obvious why. His bonhomie is exaggerated. He lands an important job for which he’s unqualified. He’s invited to a dinner party at his new boss’s house. He doesn’t bring his wife because she’s a simple soul and he is embarrassed by her. He’s drunk when he gets there—he needed to bolster himself with many drinks beforehand. The boss’s wife is kind and tries to guide him through the party. He’s invited to go to Los Angeles by private jet, to hear a local Irish band play. Dermot thinks he’s landed in heaven. He’s soon found out and it all goes sour.

Joe is a widower living in a church-run senior’s home overseen by a nun. He had a happy marriage but he was smitten with a neighbour who he barely knew. He receives a package in the mail and thinks of her and that time long ago.

The three men live a life of missed chances. They did not step up and take the opportunity. Kevin did not tell Clare of his feelings. Dermot did not do better for himself. Joe did not pursue his feelings for the neighbour. Theirs is a life of ‘what ifs.’

The Production. We are in a little gathering room in the basement of the Campbell House Museum. We sit at wood tables, on wood chairs. Director/Designer Rod Ceballos has placed three tall chairs in one of the corners. A newspaper is folded over the back of one chair. There is a string of liquor bottles with liquor in them on the mantle on one side. Voila, a Dublin pub. The men do not interact. All their speeches are monologues to us. The evening is a weaving of these monologues. When one man speaks the other two look off into space.

When the production begins the three men take their seats. Kevin sits in a chair just under the mantle with the liquor bottles. He’s in a shirt and trousers. He holds a coffee mug and drinks noisily from it.

Dermot sits in the chair with the newspaper draped over the back of it. He takes the paper off it and puts it to the side. He has put his sports coat over the back of the chair. He drinks cups of tea.

Joe wears worn clothes. His pants are held up by suspenders. He drinks a glass of beer.

All three have affected lilting Irish accents but all three could use more rehearsal to realize the subtle nuances in writer Conor McPherson’s lines. These characters are natural born story-tellers. McPherson is a master at these characters and weaving a story from nothing that grips us. They lull us along with their easy storytelling; their self-deprecating humour; their innate sadness, their heartbreak. But the three performances here spend too much time on the bravado.

I write a note on my program for Anthony MacMahon as Kevin, “slow down!!” MacMahon races through his lines initially and well into the show. We have to hear the lines and racing through them leaves us behind. He needs to pause and listen to what his character is saying. That way so will the audience.

David Mackett as Dermot races out of the starting gate going full voiced throttle when a quieter start is in order. If you bellow at the top and continue with bellowing laughs, again the audience stops listening. It’s a small room; you don’t need to bellow. We get it that Dermot is a blowhard but let us come to him and not the other way around.

Patrick Monaghan as Joe fairs better but at times he too is a bit too loud for the room and the character.

Perhaps more playing and attention by director Rod Ceballos to the speed, loudness and bluster will do the trick of reigning in these rambunctious performances.

Comment. Bless anybody who wants to do indie theatre. It’s hard getting an audience’s attention and any kind of press. Fly on the Wall Theatre is doing all the right things. They are producing the play of a terrific Irish writer. They have set in it a magic setting—the Campbell House Museum. They provide all the right information on the program and their site. A few tweaks of the volume and the speed and the production will be dandy.

Presented by Fly on the Wall Theatre

Opened: March 2, 2016.
Closes: March 13, 2016.
Cast: 3 men.
Running Time: 90 minutes.

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.