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Theatre Review: Outside Mullingar


The title of this play refers to a rural Irish village. It’s a tiny, rustic place, where the same farm families have been neighbors for generations. These folks know each other exceedingly well, so when two elderly neighbors whose spouses have recently died start talking, they don’t pull any punches.

Tony: “It’s a terrible thing to get old.”

Aoife: “I know, it happened to me.”

Tony: “Once the husband goes, the wife follows, it’s true. You’ll be dead in a year.

Anthony: “She will not. She looks perfect.

Tony: “Oh sure, the fruit still looks good when the worm STARTS his work…”

And the old man’s not kidding – he and the old woman disappear from this play midway through. They leave behind their almost middle-aged kids, living alone in their respective farmhouses and chatting when they see each other.

The woman, Rosemary, is a pipe-smoking, feisty sort. And her neighbor Anthony is withdrawn and struggles with low self-esteem. So how is the playwright going to get these two confirmed loners into a romantic relationship?

It isn’t easy, especially when they start questioning their sanity.

Anthony: Your mom says your mad.

Rosemary: I am not.

Anthony: I am.

Rosemary: How are you not?

Anthony: People don’t appeal to me much.

Rosemary: That’s normal. Who likes people? Nobody!

They may not like “people,” but it slowly emerges that these neighbors do carry a torch for each other. Director Buck Busfield wisely lets this late-blooming courtship emerge slowly and naturally, as actors Dana Brooke and David Pierini make the first, uncertain steps into romance both tender and believable. “Outside Mullingar” is a sweet little show, and really, doesn’t everybody enjoy a good love story?

“Outside Mullingar” continues at Sacramento’s B Street Theatre through November 23.