Druid Theater Company, from Galway, is performing a cycle of three plays by Tom Murphy as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Director Garry Hines describes the order of the plays as an archaelogical dig to find out how the Irish got to where they are today. The three plays share the common theme of immigration. LW and watched the whole cycle yesterday.
The first play "Conversations on a Homecoming" exploited the Irish genius for talk. Michael comes home from the United States to a small town in Galway in the 70s, and is forced by his drinking pals to realize the failure of his acting ambitions. I thought Marty Rhea was weak as Michael when this play required him to be convincing as the eternal optimist and romantic. Garrett Lombard who played the cynical teacher was much more believeable.
Next was "A Whistle in the Dark," the play that brought Tom Murphy to prominence, and comparisons with other Angry Young Men of the period. Niall Buggy was stupendous as the father who eggs his boys to violence in order to prove their manhood. Marty Rhea was much better in this play as the intellectual son who is finally drawn into the family's circle of violence, as they adapt aggressively to immigrant life in Coventry, England, in the 1960s.
The final play "Famine" looked at how the potato famine in the nineteenth century led to the mass immigration of the Irish to the New World. The style here seemed more documentary than dramatic. Both LW and I found ourselves falling asleep (it was already 9 pm, having started at 1), and so left the theater during the intermission.