Una Pooka | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Una Pooka 

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Famous Door Theatre Company.

A pooka, as fans of the comedy Harvey will remember, is a Celtic fairy who appears in animal form. In this 1989 play by Irish writer Michael Harding, the pooka poses as a priest, summoned to resolve the self-righteous bickering that divides the Kevitt family. They've gathered in Dublin to witness the pope's landmark 1979 visit, but an insurmountable gulf exists between his promise of spiritual renewal and the Kevitts' desperate unhappiness, which not even the pooka-priest can assuage.

Starting out as grim domestic drama, this intriguing but muddled work eventually drifts into metaphysical whimsy and finally tragic mystery as it tries to highlight the small-mindedness and misanthropic delusions that plague the Kevitts--and by extension, Catholic-dominated Irish society. After an annoyingly unfocused first act, the play centers on a debate over the meaning of life and love between the pooka and Una Kevitt, a sexually repressed spinster whose existence is so constricted she's not even sure if she's alive. The repartee between diminutive Elaine Rivkin's passionate but uptight Una and towering Will Casey's witty, mercurial pooka finally gives the production some zest, but it's too long coming and too short lasting to make Una Pooka a satisfying excursion into fantasy.

--Albert Williams

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