Families matter in Kent County Theatre Guild’s ‘Outside Mullingar’

From left, John Muller as Anthony Reilly speaks to neighbor Aoife Muldoon, played by Chris Polo, and David Bralley, as Anthony’s father Tony, in a scene from “Outside Mullingar.” The comedic drama, set in rural Ireland, starts tonight at Kent County Theatre Guild’s Patchwork Playhouse in Dover. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — “Outside Mullingar,” an Ireland-based drama/comedy will come to the stage this weekend and next, courtesy of the Kent County Theatre Guild.

The Tony-nominated play was performed on Broadway for just two months in 2014 so it has run under the radar for most, aside from theater enthusiasts.

“I read Broadway reviews and try to stay in tune with what’s going on and when I had the chance to read this play, I said, ‘We have to do it,’” said the show’s director Kevin Smith.

Mr. Smith has been directing with the Theatre Guild for eight years now and prefers to choose shows off the beaten track.

“I want people to come to a show and see something that they wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to see,” he said. “And this play has everything you could want from a performance — humor, pathos, longing and romance,” he said.

The play by John Patrick Shanley, author of the Tony-winning play “Doubt” and Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Moonstruck,” is set in rural Ireland in the early 2000s and focuses on two farm families with aging parents determining what to do with the properties after their passing.

The four-person cast of “Outside Mullingar,” consists of, from left, David Bralley as Tony, Laini Bernard as Rosemary, Chris Polo as Aoife and John Muller as Anthony. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“My character is about 75 years old and owns a farm and although it’s set in the 2000s, he has a very old school, traditional mindset,” said David Bralley, portraying Tony Reilly, one of the farm owners. “I want to pass the farm on to my son, but I’m unsure he can handle it. So it causes a lot of tension throughout the show.”

Tony’s son, Anthony is played by John Muller.

“My character is just about as strange a character I’ve ever played. He doesn’t want to take on the farm but doesn’t want his father to give it away either and he’s a miserable person and has no problem making everyone else miserable right along with him,” he said.

Part of Anthony’s misery comes from his belief that no woman is interested in him despite his neighbor Rosemary being in love with him since childhood.

The play has a cast of only four, giving most the actors more stage time than they’ve ever had.

“I have the second-most time on the stage and it’s definitely challenging for all of us because we have a lot of weight to carry, especially in terms of lines. But we work well together, which makes it OK,” said Laini Bernard, playing the role of Rosemary.

Working well together comes with many hours of rehearsing with a small group.

“I find with small casts, the interaction between the characters is better than with a large cast because we get to know one another better and we hear how each actor relates to their character and it creates a more personal experience and a feeling of understanding on several levels,” Mr. Muller said.

Despite extensive character development improving the quality of the performance, the lines for “Outside Mullingar” can be a bit more difficult than the typical play.

“The dialogue in the play is very much like the dialogue in real life,” said Mr. Muller. “A conversation may be pretty one-sided with one character just nodding in agreement so you don’t get the kind of cues you get with most scripts that always have a strong back and forth.”

From left, Laini Bernard as Rosemary, Chris Polo as Aoife and David Bralley as Tony. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Since the play takes place in Ireland, two of the actors — Mr. Bralley and Chris Polo, playing the role of Rosemary’s mother, Aoife, both don accents for their roles.

“I was intrigued by this show because I love doing accents,” Ms. Polo said. “It adds another challenge to the performance but it’s fun and nice to have a challenge.”

Although she prefers farce to dramas and comedies, she’s happy to act in any show that gets a reaction from the audience.

“I want people to come to a show and feel something and with this play, I definitely think they will,” she said. “It’s a drama/comedy but it has so many elements that most anyone will enjoy.”

“Outside Mullingar” takes the stage today and Saturday and April 27 and 28 at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

General admission tickets are $20; tickets for those 62 and over, students and military are $18; KCTG members $17 and children 12 and under $10. They are available at kctg.org or at the door.

The guild’s Patchwork Playhouse is at 140 E. Roosevelt Ave. Dover.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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