Opening its second season, Irish Heritage Theatre’s A NIGHT WITH LADY G features three one-act plays by Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932), a key force in the Irish Literary Revival and co-founder of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre (The National Theatre of Ireland). Set during Gregory’s own lifetime in the early 1900s, each of the rarely-produced shorts (directed by company members John Gallagher and Peggy Mecham and performed by an ensemble of ten local actors) captures a sardonic slice of life of Ireland’s common folk through the playwright’s keen observations of her countrymen and her own literary “gift of gab.” And “Holy Mac Riuil” do her characters gab!
In THE WORKHOUSE WARD, Mike Miskell (John Cannon) and Mike McInerney (Steve Gulick)–two elderly men in wheelchairs in a modest managed-care facility–incessantly complain, bicker, and insult each other, as they recall their early years as neighbors and rivals. But they also come to realize the unbreakable friendship and bond they share, despite their laughably adversarial relationship and curmudgeonly behavior–at which Cannon and Gulick excel, as they do with their characters’ “Oirish” accents. The second comedy, SPREADING THE NEWS, considers the damaging effects of “too much talk” when Bartley Fallon (Jason Eric Klemm) is accused by the townspeople at a country fair of murdering Jack Smith (Keith Miller) with a hayfork, so that he can run off to America with Smith’s wife. The idle gossip, absurd misinterpretations, defamatory rumors, and outright lies spread like wildfire, until even the indignant Mrs. Fallon (the terrific Emily Mattison) comes to doubt her husband’s innocence.
THE RISING OF THE MOON, which closes the show, is less of a comedy and more of a socio-political statement about the IRA, with a chilling performance by Steve Gleich as a mysterious minstrel/beggar who sings the praises of the revolutionary organization on a waterfront pier. All three plays are enhanced by simple but effective sets (Gallagher and Mecham) and props (Kate Danaher), dramatic lighting (Andrew Cowles), authentic period-style costumes (Michelle Mercier), and clear sound (Rick Gilbert), including a selection of traditional Irish ballads and jigs. [Plays & Players, 1714 Delancey St., 3rd floor] .