Northlight Theatre’s new production of “Outside Mullingar” is set in Ireland, which means the characters are argumentative, contrary, negative in outlook, and they can hold a grudge for a lifetime. “Outside Mullingar” is a poignant love story about two lonely people who find each other in spite of themselves. I give it 4 Spotlights.
Anthony Reilly (Mark Montgomery) lives with his very cantankerous father, Tony Reilly (William J. Norris), on Tony’s farm outside Mullingar. Tony is ill-tempered, demanding, and suspicious of the ‘modern’ farming techniques Anthony has introduced. He’s made up his mind that Anthony won’t have children, and then what will happen to the farm? He says Anthony isn’t a true Reilly because he looks like his mother’s family. Tony hints that he’s going to leave the farm to his brother’s son, who looks like a Reilly, even though the nephew lives in America.
They’ve just come home from the funeral of their closest neighbor and they’re expecting his widow, Aoife Muldoon (Annabel Armour) and daughter, Rosemary (Kate Fry), to stop in. Tony is positive that she’ll be willing to sell a disputed piece of property. Tony sold that bit of land which blocks access to his farm for reasons he’s never shared. When he went to buy it back six months later, Muldoon refused to sell.
Aoife is no sooner sitting with a mug of tea when Tony demands she sell the land back to him. She tells him she can’t sell it because it belongs to Rosemary. It seems when she was seven and Anthony about 12, he knocked her down. According to her mother, she’s never forgotten nor forgiven. She begged her father to give her the land, so he did.
His plans thwarted, Tony starts carping at his son, who storms out, meeting Rosemary who’d standing outside in the rain smoking a pipe and brooding. When Anthony asks what Rosemary does all day, she says she smokes. Any further conversational gambits are beyond him. It doesn’t take long for Anthony to offend Rosemary, who storms off.
Anthony is clueless about women – thinking no one would want him because he’s crazy and thinks he’s a bumblebee. Rosemary has always been interested in him though; in fact, she persuaded his father to leave him the farm.
I had a bit of trouble accepting Norris and Montgomery and as father and son – what with the son towering over the father – until Tony’s ‘true Reilly’ accusations. After that, Montgomery grew on me. I did have a chuckle or two when he hung an apron over his head before doing dishes.
“Outside Mullingar” runs through April 19th at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie. Performances are Wednesdays at 1:00 and 7:30 pm; Thursdays at 7:30; Fridays at 8:00; Saturdays at 2:30 and 8:00; and Sundays at 2:30. Running time is 90 minutes, no intermission. Tickets range from $25-$54. Parking is free and abundant. FYI (847) 673-6300 or www.northlight.org
Northlight is just South of Old Orchard Shopping Center in Skokie with lots of free parking.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Outside Millingar”.