Cabaret presents mixed 'Greens'

By Robert O'Brien
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 3, 1996

Now that we can all safely assume that the last green beer hangover has passed, those looking for a more realistic look at Ireland than presented every March 17 could do far worse than to take in Live Theatre Workshops' "A Festival of Irish Plays" this weekend at the Temple of Music and Art's Cabaret Theatre.

Also included are poetry readings from works by the Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. The first is read by an aged gentleman who unwittingly delivers his lines in a manner reminiscent of William S. Burroughs unsettling to say the least. The subject matter is sourced mainly from the Irish literary renaissance of the early part of this century, starting off with William Butler Yeats' "Cathleen Ni Hoolihan." Tucson theater veteran James Gooden is quite convincing as the father, although the same can not be said for most of the accents taken up by the actors. This play's superstitious undertone sets the mood for the next two one-act works by John Millington Synge.

"In the Shadow of the Glen" demonstrates a bizarre sort of wit; it entails the story of an abused wife, but the audience is left with an odd aftertaste of mirth. This is chiefly due to the fatuous character of Dan Burke, played by Michael Kirwin. His delivery is reminiscent of Sir Alec Guiness' Ghost of Christmas Past; his accent is even more confusing in his lurching portrayal of a different sort of dead man walking.

The somber superstition of Yeats is echoed in Synge's "Riders to the Sea," the depressing tale of a wife who has seen all the men in her family meet with fate at the hands of the ocean. The effect is, well, sobering. The more serious side of the Irish literary genre is reflected here, and rendered well indeed.

In this state of mind, it seems an odd choice, then, to see a children's theater adaptation of "The Leprechaun and the Farmer of Tralee" as a follow-up. This serves as a reminder of those grade-school days, but from the other side of the hot lights. It might seem easy enough to dismiss, as I almost did, but don't miss the hilarious expressions of young Kyle Terrizzi as "the Leprechaun." No, I won't tell you why his "little jig" is so funny. You'll have to see it for yourself. This pint-sized Jimmy Cagney nearly brought the house down.

In all, a commendable effort, hurt just slightly by the wide variety of themes, but very well presented in the Mead Hall-like surroundings of the Cabaret. Heaney's insights added much to the expressive nature of the performance as well.