ALBANY - It is difficult to conceive of anyone not enjoying the romantic comedy “Outside Mullingar” that is playing at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany through October 16.
It’s a very funny, warm play about never married neighbors who upon nearing 40 years of age finally admit their feelings for each other. What took them so long is part of what makes the play so engaging.
Anthony and Rosemary have lived on adjoining farms their entire life. She knew she would marry him when he pushed her to the ground when she was a mere six years old. He doesn’t know her plan until about 10 minutes before end of the two hour presentation.
There are times when “Outside Mullingar” feels like two one act plays. However, one section would not work without the other and the two acts make a satisfying whole.
The first act has the false sound of gloom as it takes place after a funeral and two older characters speak openly with their children about their own passing –which they expect to happen rather soon. But being Irish, even the talk of death is filled with humor. The interactions between them and Anthony and Rosemary are as funny as they are serious. The characters being Irish, land dominates the discussion.
In the second act humor turns into comedy as the younger pair are forced to face the fact they belong together. More accurately - the shy, introverted Anthony listens to the strong-willed Rosemary explain what he already knows.
It’s a charming work that is set in 2008, but it could be 1908 or even 1808. The play is set in a rural section of Ireland and focuses on both the humor and the stubborn logic of people who live isolated lives that are dominated by hard work in a harsh environment.
The performers do well making real people out of these familiar types. As the parents Kenneth Kimmins is both gruff and loving as a man who loves his son, but fears that to leave him the farm after his death would not doing the man a great service. Laurie O’Brien has an air of no-nonsense warmth about her as she wants affairs in order and refuses to permit emotions to influence the decisions of inheritance for both her daughter and Anthony.
Kim Stauffer is a charming and determined Rosemary. This is a woman who knew she loved Anthony from the time she was six and spurned all other suitors while waiting for him to realize they belonged together.
Clearly Anthony is a dullard, but Stauffer permits the audience to see the man as she sees him. And she does is without making Rosemary seem desperate or foolish. It’s a truly realistic performance of a woman knowing what she wants.
David Kenner makes Anthony appears shy and introverted rather that seeming a lump of a man who cannot stand up to his father or speak up for the woman he loves. Kenner makes the man’s flaws ingratiating rather than annoying. When he does speak from the heart he becomes a man worthy of Rosemary and deserving of a happy future.
The technical aspects of the production are great. Ken Goldstein has designed a set that is sparse and able to easily convert into several playing spaces. He even figures out a way to bring the rainy Irish climate indoors. Bethany Marx’s costumes are character perfect and Michael Giannitti’s lighting perfectly captures the emotional mood of every scene.
This is sharp production of a play about simple people. Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill tells their story in a loving manner that invites the audience into their lives. It’s a pleasant visit.
“Outside Mullingar” at Capital Repertory Theatre, Albany. Through October 16. Performances Tuesdays-Sundays. For tickets and schedule call 518-445-7469 or go to capitalrep.org.
Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record
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