Monday Night in a Country Town | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Monday Night in a Country Town 

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MONDAY NIGHT IN A COUNTRY TOWN, Irish American Heritage Center. Opening night for the North American premiere of Dublin playwright Tom O'Brien's new work was supposed to be a grand affair at the Irish American Heritage Center, with tours of its library and museum and lots of free-flowing Guinness at the center's pub, the Fifth Province. But on the night of the fete no one could find the person with keys to the museum, the library was little more than a construction site, and the Guinness--well, actually, there wasn't a thing wrong with either the Guinness or the Fifth Province.

O'Brien's play--about a group of rustic bachelors and their efforts to woo a widow in possession of the best fields in County Mayo--is also a mixed bag. The script veers wildly in tone, from bucolic comedy with lots of amusing, eccentric Irish ne'er-do-wells to over-the-top melodrama. Likewise the actors (directed by Jim Kearney and newly installed artistic director, Brad Armacost, an off-Loop veteran) range from flat and nearly inaudible--the auditorium does have some acoustical problems--to pretty good. Donna Smothers turns in the best performance as the widow, and Joe Collins and Colm McCann provide comic relief as a Laurel and Hardy-ish pair of bachelor farmers, neither of whom is worthy of the widow's affections. --Jack Helbig

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