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Transcript: Connie Meng Review aired Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The Cripple of Inishmaan
Depot Theatre, Westport NY
From Friday, July 25 to Sunday, August 3, 2003

Martin McDonagh has written a fascinating play in THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN. Set in the remote Aran Islands off the West Coast of Ireland, the making of Robert Flaherty's 1932 documentary THE MAN OF ARAN provides the background of the play. Like McDonagh's other plays, THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN has plenty of humor, rich characters and unexpected dark moments. The twists in the play's action are constantly surprising. We hear the "true story" of an incident, then moments later hear a different "true story".

Director John Christopher Jones has done a wonderful job with this interesting and complex play. The Irish dialects are very good, and are light enough that the dialogue doesn't get lost in the brogue. His choices of music between the scenes are excellent, and serve to tie the piece together. His inventive staging combined with Jean Brookman's clever set takes advantage of every inch of the Depot's stage. James Coleman's lighting is very good, particularly during Billy's monologue in the beginning of Act II.

The cast is generally very strong. Joe Gallagher is excellent as Cripple Billy. He's capable of showing us the depths of this complex character. As Babbybobby, Chris Flockton is equally good and gives his character a strong subtext. Their scene together in Act II is one of the most powerful in the play.

Rusty Ross makes a very likeable Bartley in his preoccupation with "sweeties". Edward Cornell is fine as The Doctor, and dealt expertly with a recalcitrant curtain rod. John Schuman is delightful as Johnnypateenmike, a gossiping rogue with a couple of soft spots. Suzanne Marley has a good time with Mammy, his drunken old mother.

Unfortunately Gloria Moore is not up to the demands of the role of Helen, Bartley's tough-talking egg-throwing sister. She plays the role with almost stone-faced lack of expression, and it's impossible to believe that anyone would be frightened by her supposed violence. Even her laugh is unconvincing.

Paddy Croft does a nice job as Kate, one of Billy's two adoptive aunties. I especially enjoyed her very believable relationship with her stone. As Eileen, the other auntie, Shami McCormick is just plain terrific. Her scenes with Billy are truly moving, particularly in Act II. She's also a master of the expressive exit.

All in all, this is a good production of a strong play. The audience seemed to really enjoy it, as did my companion and I. It's an unusual play to appear in a summer season, and true theatregoers should take this opportunity to see it.

On a scale of one to five, the Depot Theatre production of THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN gets four and a half boxcars. For North Country Public Radio, I'm Connie Meng.

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