Outside Mulligar

The play the family went to see yesterday was called Outside Mulligar and it was excellent.  But I am having a hard time describing home.

The play is a comedy, but any description of it makes it sound quite sad.

The play is about two Irish families that live on adjacent farms outside the town of Mulligar.  Each family is composed of a parent in their late 60s/early 70s with a recently deceased spouse and their adult child who still lives at home.  The play starts with the Muldoons (Aofie and Rosemary) going over to the Reilly’s (Tony and Anthony) for condolence tea after the funeral where Chris Muldoon (father and husband) was buried.

Loss and the fear of loss is a recurring theme in the play.  So are faith, pride and how those intersect with love.

Does it sound like a rollicking good time yet?

The plot points in the first scene revolve around a plot of land with disputed ownership and the disposal of the Reilly family farm when Tony eventually passes.  But the play doesn’t care about its plot.  It resolves each of these plot points by the end of the first set of themes and introduces new ones for later scenes.

The play cares about its themes and the relationships between its characters – those still alive and those that have passed on.  This is where its heart lies and where it finds its source of humour.  So much of the humour deals with reactions to loss that you might think it is a black comedy, but it isn’t.  The play is seat and good natured throughout.

The writing makes it hilarious.  The play doesn’t have jokes.  It has pacing and flow and stories that are brought to life by the actors.  Of the actors, the lady playing Rosemary really nails her role.  She’s given a strong part and has to move quickly fro emotion to emotion while staying funny at all times.  She does it with aplomb.

Of course, the play plays to my interests.  It is two families of Irish spending their entire time arguing with one another.  That just works for me.

A typical exchange that shows the interchange of sadness and drama occurs at the begging.  Elder Tony is telling his son how this is the second wake he has been to for Chris Muldoon.  The first was decades ago.  Muldoon and his wife had a baby boy who they names Chris Jr..  As Tony yells it the boy came out half size and shrank from there.  After a few weeks (days?) the boy passed away.  The town wasn’t aware of the boy’s passing or his name so when the paper published the notice for the wake all Muldoon’s pub friends showed up with the whiskey ready to toast their deceased friend.  But they walked into the wake to find a tiny white box less than a foot long and their friend standing behind it.

The humour came from how Tony told it and how Anthony reacted to the news.  But at the same time you were laughing the story itself was so sad and pitiful you were almost in tears.

That is how Outside Mulligar works.

If you get a chance go and see it.

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