LAY ME DOWN SOFTLY (Irish Heritage Theatre): 2018 Fringe review

A version of this review was also published on Foley Got Comped.

Kirsten Quinn as Lily and Brian Wilson as Dean. Photo by Dawn Brooks.
Kirsten Quinn as Lily and Brian Wilson as Dean. Photo by Dawn Brooks.

Irish Heritage Theatre is purely a labor of love. All of the company members have day-jobs, rehearse 25 hours a week, at night after work, and perform with a joy that has not been quenched battling. They’re like the amateur boxer, Dean (played by the honest, and agile, Dan McGlaughlin), in Billy Roche’s LAY ME DOWN SOFTLY. This joy is evident when the dynamic Kirsten Quinn takes the gigantic stage as Lily alongside the glorious, joy-to-watch Brian Anthony Wilson as Peader.

The 2008 play centers around the combustive world of amateur boxing in the tent of Delaney’s Road show traveling through the oppressive rural Ireland of 1962.  But in its current state Peggy Mecham’s production functions more like a rough sketch of the work than a coherent final version. Only three of the Philadelphia-based American actors actually mastered the Irish brogue, or knew how to breathe from their diaphragm, and articulate without visible strain on the expansive stage of Plays & Players. Director Mecham’s choice to stage this claustrophobic memory play on such a remote expansive space creates an imposed distance between the actors and audience.

Still, thanks to God and IHT for letting me experience Brian Anthony Wilsons’s work on the P & P stage. It’s a delight to watch the man listen to the other actors. Read full review here >>

[Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Street] August 31-September 15, 2018;


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