NY Theater Review: Marcina Zaccaria
Gritty Irish drama takes the stage in Seamus Scanlon’s The McGowan Trilogy
The McGowan Trilogy consists of three Inter-Related One Act Plays. Act One is Dancing at Lunacy, Act Two is The Long Wet Grass, and Act Three is Boy Swam Before Me. There are tough guys and tough talk in this clandestine world. The cast of The McGowan Trilogy includes Cindy Boyle, Philip Callen, Matt Golden, Conor McIntyre, Anna Nugent, and features Paul Nugent.
The McGowan Trilogy juxtaposes the beauty of the landscape with dark impulses that erupt in violence. The lead character, Victor M. McGowan, feels a sense of shattered dreams and time gone by. In the second act, he shares with his lost love, and in the third act, he visits with his mother. He has passions and desires, but all of them have turned ugly.
The show juxtaposes the world of everyday people with the violent reality of the IRA. With The McGowan Trilogy, Playwright Seamus Scanlon creates a lead character that is unafraid to stand alone. Scanlon’s trilogy highlights a man on the run, and reveals the places where a man like McGowan can hide or be comforted. In the play, he breaks from the pack, and celebrates his singular spirit.
Playwright Seamus Scanlon is originally from Galway. Scanlon’s work has been heard at the cell’s monthly salons. He had a residency at the MacDowell Artists Colony and a fellowship from the Center for Fiction in New York. His story collection is As Close As You’ll Ever Be.
Director Kira Simring is sensitive to place, and she creates an authenticity onstage at the cell theater that feels both intimate and vast. The performers are sometimes less than ten feet away from you. Although there is never the sense that the audience is in the IRA club, it is easy to get a sense of the tension onstage. Detailed acting work creates potent drama. The fight choreography by Jed Peterson reveals the gritty underworld where the characters live. Guns, hammers, and hand to hand combat are featured in the show. Slices of life are revealed in shards of action onstage.
Simring is the Artistic Director of the cell, and she also directed Larry Kirwan’s Hard Times, An American Musical. Gertjan Houben’s scenic and lighting design exploits the height of the cell theater, which looks like a converted Chelsea brownstone. Houben makes good use of large panels that are raised in pieces above the stage. In the second act, Houben utilizes a black carpet, closing down the space while lighting in flecks from above.
The costume design by Siena Zoe Allen reminds us of average, everyday folks in Ireland. The men are clad in flannel, leather jackets, and boots. Sound design by Dylan Fusillo helps to bring the audience into the world of day and night.
The 1st Irish Theatre Festival is a celebration of the best of Irish theater, brought to you by Origin Theater Company. It runs for four weeks. The festival has produced more than 100 Irish playwrights to audiences in New York City. This is the seventh year of the 1st Irish Theatre Festival.