The New York Farm Bureau is pushing...
THE MOLLYCODDLERS, a first play by Kingston native John Corrigan, has many earmarks of a first play, such as concentration on plot and lack of character development. The basic idea is funny. It's the story of a group of farmers who take to piracy to supplement their income. Unlike Robin Hood their decision is, and I quote, "To pirate from the rich and keep it."
They call their gang the Mollycoddlers - a funny word in itself and more so when it's misused to inspire fear. As a matter of fact, the funniest scene is when they attempt to explain their name to a real pirate.
Dennis Horn's barn set is atmospheric and very workable. He's also done a fine job with the gang's target - a steamship moored outside the theatre in the river. The opening scene of Act II takes place outdoors as the bumbling pirates attack from a rowboat. The audience can watch outdoors from the theatre's decks or inside from their seats through a simultaneous broadcast. It's a clever idea. On opening night most of the audience opted for the outdoor view and the full moon added a great deal.
Speaking of lighting, and not just from the moon, Adair Redish has done a fine job as has Robin Fisher with the costumes. There's also some good sound, especially the crickets.
Many of the cast members are working much too hard to be funny. However Matthew John Lundvall as the gun and cheese-loving Dee does an excellent job. It's a broad characterization, but three-dimensional and genuinely funny. Melissa Good as Jane also does a nice job with very little to work with. Her reunion scene with Kate and Uncle Bill brought a breath of believability to the proceedings.
Director Greg Wanless seems not to have made a clear decision as to style. Some scenes play like cartoons, some like melodrama and some like realism. For me, the realism works best. I was also puzzled by the different dialects. However, the staging works, and the differing styles may be due partly to the different styles and levels of experience of the actors.
Part of the problem is the play itself. For instance, the Chadwick scene is very awkward, especially the abrupt end. Also, much of the humor seems overly broad and labored, but again it's difficult to tell whether it's the writing, the director or the actors.
The production lacked the air of professionalism I've come to expect at the 1000 Islands Playhouse. I must say that many members of the audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy the play, but it's just not my mug of grog. As my companion said, though, the moon was great!
On a scale of one to five the 1000 Islands Playhouse production of THE MOLLYCODDLERS gets three fish. For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.