Talent Shines but Script Lacks in 'Carol Mulroney'

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"Carol Mulroney"

 

Written by Stephen Belber; directed by Lisa Peterson; scenic design by Rachel Hauck; costumes design by Kristin Glans; lighting design by Alexander V. Nichols; original music and sound design by John Gromada

 

Cast in Order of Appearance

Carol Mulroney, Ana Reeder

Hutton Mulroney, Larry Pine

Jen Parker, ReuBen Jackson

Joan, JohAnna Day

Lesley, Tim Random

 

Performances: Now through November 20 at the Wimberly Theatre, BCA Calderwood Pavilion

Box Office: 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org, www.bostontheatrescene.com

 

Sometimes, a great actor-or even a great group of actors-can't revive a lifeless script. Even with the help of clever staging, unique lighting, original music, and a simple but effective set, the script just drags everything down and screams to be rewritten with each passing scene. This scenario is unfortunately the case with Stephen Belber's Carol Mulroney. While the Huntington Theatre stages a fantastic world premiere of this drama, the script itself lacks so much that the overall effect is one of confusion and hyperbole rather than revelation and power.

 

The main problem with Belber's script is that it is just too much. For a relatively simple story about a woman struggling with her past and her future, Carol Mulroney lacks the focus needed to effectively convey Belber's tale. The rough outline of a structure and plot is there, but the play jumps in too many directions at once, from the various subplots, to the tangents that serve as scene transitions, to the recurring image of the elephant's butt. It's almost as if Belber is trying so hard to write a deep and meaningful script that he completely misses and ends up writing an overblown caricature of his original goal. His use of comedy and lighter moments in this drama is well done and perfectly timed, but overall, the dialogue seems weak and forced. The scenes and ideas just don't flow, and the almost non-existent structure coupled with the awkwardly verbose and exaggerated transitioning tangents lend themselves to the creation of a totally forgettable story. One expects more from the seasoned stage and screen veteran who co-authored The Laramie Project.

 

Despite the obvious weaknesses of the script, Huntington/>/>'s Carol Mulroney is a rather good production. Larry Pine brings great charisma to the stage as Hutton Mulroney, and perfectly balances the comedy and tragedy that the role demands. His onstage chemistry with ReuBen Jackson, who plays Ken Parker with amazing intensity and passion, is tremendously vibrant. Tim Ransom also presents a strong performance as Lesley, and JohAnna Day steals the stage with her lively and realistic portrayal of Carol's neighbor and artistic contemporary Joan. Ana Reeder's portrayal of Carol Mulroney leaves something to be desired-she is rigid, static, and at times seems completely miscast-but this seems to be more the fault of the script than the actress. Reeder does a decent job bringing Carol To life, given what little she has to work with in the script. 

 

Overall, the ensemble works well together to bring Belber's story to life, and under the direction of Lisa Peterson, completely avoid the on stage awkwardness that is so prevalent in the script's dialogue. The relationship between Peterson's direction and Alexander F. Nichols' lighting design is one of great balance-the two play off each other to present a show that is visually interesting and appealing-and Rachel Hauck's scenic design is simple yet eerily poignant and foreshadowing.

 

The elements for a good show are there, but for some reason-mainly Belber's script-the production is lacking. And while the Huntington/>/> makes a great attempt, without a few rewrites, there's really no saving Carol Mulroney. 

 



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From This Author Olena Ripnick

Olena Ripnick is a Boston University journalism student and freelance writer whose introduction to the performing arts took place when she was cast as Gretel (read more...)