BWW Review: OUTSIDE MULLINGAR Delights Audiences at Florida Repertory Theatre
Florida Repertory Theatre opened their 20th anniversary season this week, and after getting the chance to see the first of their nine shows for this season, I completely understand why they continue to be so successful.
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR by John Patrick Shanley was, to sum it up in a word, delightful. Florida Rep proves that you don't need a big cast to have a hilarious, sad, romantic, and very engaging show. The cast, consisting of Viki Boyle, Rachel Burttram, Martin LaPlatney, and Brendan Powers, is evidently quite incredible. I have to say, I was impressed with how well they each held a perfect Irish accent throughout the entire show. This is not an easy feat, yet each one of them pulled it off flawlessly, and it really made the story and Irish setting feel even more real.
I very much appreciated the connection that the actors all had. I noted that two members of the cast, Brendan Powers and Rachel Burttram, are married, and this clearly allowed them to delve deeper into the connection between their characters. They were lively on stage together. You could feel the tension between their characters during arguments, and the emotional pull each one felt for the other. It was beautiful, and definitely something unique to see in theater productions.
There was a perfect balance of humorous lines and solemn moments in OUTSIDE MULLINGAR. Some of the best one-liners in the show were delivered perfectly by Viki Boyle and Martin LaPlatney near the beginning of the production, but the hilarity never dissipated, even through the very end of the show. It was so enjoyable to watch, and judging from the instant roar of audience laughter every time something funny was said, I am not the only one who enjoyed it.
Something else that I really enjoyed about OUTSIDE MULLINGAR was the staging of the production. It may be in part because it was set in Florida Rep's ArtStage Studio Theatre, but they made perfect choices with the setup of the two "homes" and the "outside" area. The actors did a fantastic job of performing to each other when they happened to be in the "outside" area, which was the center of the stage. Because the audience was seated on both sides of the theatre, they had to interact in a way that allowed for both sides to see their facial expressions. They absolutely did so, and I was honestly quite impressed with how well they did at allowing the audience to really become a part of each scene.
One of the best things Florida Rep does is pay good attention to detail, and this was exemplified perfectly in OUTSIDE MULLINGAR. In a scene where two of the characters are standing outside "in the rain," each of their coats looked like they had been rained on, and their hair was wet--and this is just the beginning of the small intricacies Florida Rep includes in their productions. Everything is intentional, and I love it.
I absolutely recommend seeing Florida Rep's OUTSIDE MULLINGAR if you get the chance. The story was so engaging, and the actors were all excellent. I won't spoil what happens for you, but there's one particular revelation near the end of the show that is shockingly hilarious, yet sweet at the same time, and even just that moment alone is worth going to see the show for--let alone every other excellent part of the production.
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR was a perfect season opener for Florida Rep, and I really look forward to seeing more of their 20th season productions. OUTSIDE MULLINGAR runs at Florida Rep's ArtStage Studio Theatre now through October 22. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday at 7PM, Friday-Saturday at 8PM, with matinees on Thursday, Sunday, and selected Saturdays at 2PM. To buy tickets, you can visit www.floridarep.org, call Florida Rep at 239-332-4488, or stop by the box office at 2268 Bay Street, Fort Myers, FL, 33901.