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BWW Interview: John Charles McLaughlin Talks CRACKSKULL ROW and its Unique Challenges

The Irish Repertory Theatre is currently presenting Crackskull Row, through March 19, 2017. The production, by Honor Molloy and directed by Kira Simring, was originally produced at the cell in fall 2016.

Rasher Moorigan has a secret that only his mother knows. Tonight - for the first time in over thirty years - mother and son spend May Eve together in a wreck of a house down the backlanes of Dublin. Melding reality and myth, Crackskull Row is the story of an Irish family's desperate actions and forbidden loves, "exploring rage, dissolution, sexual perversity and family history with a bleak and penetrating acuity."

John Charles McLaughlin is featured in the double role of Young Rash/ESB Boy. McLaughlin is a resident artist at the cell and most recently performed in the production of Crackskull Row there. He just chatted with BroadwayWorld about his experience in the show, his ties to the cell, and what it's like to play two characters! You can read the full interview below.

How does this production differ from the run at the cell that you did at the end of last year?

We got to dig a lot more deeply into the piece because space is definitely more intimate. We didn't realize that moving the show was going to do that. It's kind of cool how we grew organically just from the different space. It seems like it's gotten a bit more tense, I guess.

What is it about this show that drew you to it and made you want to be a part of it?

I worked with people at the cell on many different projects, and I did a reading of this piece a couple of years back and immediately reading through it, I realized that it was like nothing I had ever read before. The writing is just so lyrical and totally different. When I first read it I did not have any idea what I was in for, and that challenge was the draw. I got to work on it through the reading and then they decided to do a production of it last year. That was so exciting to get to see what this would look like on stage. So I was honored to be along for the ride. It's just a cool, different piece.

Did you find that this was a challenge compared to other things you'd done before?

Oh, definitely. The subject matter is a lot more tense, and it's a really brutal piece. I have been accustomed to doing mostly musical theatre in the past so this was definitely a challenge that I was just thrilled to be a part of. And all of the actors are just constantly professionals so to get to work with them was just unreal.

So you play multiple roles in this show, what is that like?

I play Young Rash and the ESB boy. Young Rash is a younger version of Colin Lane's character, and that part of the play takes place in the past in Dublin. My character of the ESB boy is a little bit more of a livelier character in the present day. I'm trying to remember if I've ever had to do this before. It was definitely different and a little bit scary at first but the characters are so different that what had at first seemed like it was going to be a huge challenge, over the course of rehearsals and through the process, that became the fun of it, was getting to, right in the middle of the show, jump into an entirely different persona. Then I think once we realized that, they just grew on their own.

You are a resident artist at the cell, what is it about this company that you enjoy so much?

They are my family in New York. I did a production with them in 2012 and that was my first production at the cell. It's just a very creative, nurturing, collaborative spirit that they create there. Everyone seems to be like a family. Everyone is there because they want to be and it really feels like a village putting up a work of art. Every show I've been lucky enough to do since with them, feels the same way. It's a group effort, very collaborative. That was something that I could never resist going back for, was the opportunity to work alongside these amazing writers and designers and actors, and them all being so open to collaborating which is such a cool thing. The lines between the different roles blurred and it was just this group effort. By the end of it, you just become a family. With every show you feel that way. So I guess I've always felt that at the cell and I'd be crazy not to come back.

What's next for you? Is there anything you can share?

Not that I know of off the top of my head. When we found out about this run, it was so exciting, and it became my focus and it's at that point where I should probably be thinking about what's next but I don't really know. I'm always keeping up with auditioning and I would love for this show to go on and on but I'm just going to enjoy it while it lasts and hope for the best. But I love working with new writers and acting I'm working with a couple new writers and doing some small salon things with different composers and lyricists, just small things here and there. That is definitely something that I really enjoy.

Crackskull Row plays at The Irish Repertory Theatre (132 West 22nd Street) through March 19. Tickets can be purchased through

Photos by Michael Bonazio

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