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A Skull in Connemara

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A Skull in Connemara (Martin McDonagh)
Lantern Theater (part of the Philadelphia Irish Festival)
Jan. 19-Feb. 13, 2011 (run has been extended)
Review Airs on WRTI, 90. 1 fm beginning Jan. 21

Martin McDonagh’s A Skull in Connemara at the Lantern Theater comes in the middle of the English-Irish playwright’s first trilogy between The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Lonesome West.

Like all three McDonagh plays it’s set in the village of Leenane, County Galway, where people too easily fall through the cracks: gossips, oddballs, troublemakers. The main man is old Mick, who is paid to exhume skeletons when the cemetery needs room for fresh bones. Mick, played by the stellar Stephen Novelli, has the tough task of digging up the wife some accuse him of killing.

Did he? Novelli’s over -due Lantern debut is as believable and down- at- heart as a Becket character. McDonagh, born in 1970, is heir to that master: the work has a grisly hilarity

Dirk Durosette’s design for A Skull in Connemara is one of the best I’ve seen in this venue, the interior of the Galway wood and stone cottage – abutted by open graves. Larry Fowler’s sound is a merry juxtaposition.

Masterful is the opposing force of Mick’s nosy neighbor Maryjohnny, played by the superb Ellen Mulroney. Marryjohnny, bringing nightly weather and Bingo reports as she cadges spirits, is Mick’s true North. When they spar, the production is at its height.

Lesser forces in this production are the thick-witted bumblers who drive the action: Mairtin, a youth who taunts more than he helps the grave digger and is acted by Jake Blouch; Thomas, the pompous village cop is performed by Jered McLenigan. Both relied on odd gesture and diction than seemed necessary opening night, though the drew a lot of laughs. Catch the bizarrely moving A Skull in Connemara at the Lantern through Feb. 13.

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Written by Lesley Valdes

January 20, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Drama

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