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James Russell

The Plough and the Stars

May 7, 2019

The Irish Repertory Theatre ends its thirtieth season by going back to the beginning, with a sturdy revival of Sean O'Casey's "The Plough and the Stars." An historical prequel to the other two plays in O'Casey's Dublin Trilogy, it was also the Irish Rep's inaugural production, a daring choice that essentially served as an artistic mission statement, signalling a commitment not to shy away from Ireland's ever-contested past. [more]

Juno and the Paycock

April 12, 2019

From this group of familiar faces, O'Reilly and Keating are particularly strong in their second go-around, finding notes in Jack and Joxer's codependent relationship that are both hilarious and hideous. With his almost sneering delivery of Joxer's obsequious and vowel-rich responses ("it's a darlin' funeral, a daarlin' funeral"), Keating's performance is especially brilliant, pitched just before the point when servility turns into hate. As for Jack, O'Reilly brushes aside his litany of faults to make him a first-rate charmer, capable of snatching a smile from Juno even after he's brought the overburdened woman to her wit's end. [more]

The Shadow of a Gunman

February 21, 2019

Director Ciarán O’Reilly handles O'Casey's abrupt tonal shifts well, transitioning from laughter to tears to horror with barely a hint of contrivance. A top-notch production team greatly aids O’Reilly's quest for authenticity, turning the performance space into an impressive simulacrum of war-torn Dublin. Leading the effort is Charlie Corcoran whose incredibly detailed set spreads out into the audience, where a gloomy, ramshackle corridor deposits theatergoers into seats bracketed by crumbling brick walls and overhung with clotheslines burdened by the tenants' latest washings. [more]

ON THE TOWN with Chip Deffaa …. for July 5th, 2016

July 5, 2016

I’ve always liked Andrew Keenan-Bolger's work. He was a memorable child actor, playing leads on Broadway in shows like "Beauty and the Beast" and "Seussical," when he was around 13 or 14 years old.  I admired  his sunny, open-hearted work then.  And he's even more successful today (at age 31)  as an adult--not every child actor can make such a transition. He conveys the same sort of buoyant spirit on stage now as he did when I first saw him in those  shows he did so well as a youth.. (His whole family is talented.  He and his sisters, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Maggie Keenan-Bolger, are all making their contributions to the arts.) [more]

Shining City

June 10, 2016

Since his youthful career heyday of the 1980’s with major roles on Broadway in Neil Simon plays and starring in the enduring cultural touchstone film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," Mr. Broderick has since continued on in such films as "Election" and the Broadway smash hit, "The Producers." Now 54, he is stockier, his hair is gray and his features are fuller but his charisma and commanding talent remains as does his inimitable grin and twinkling eyes. Considering his indelible past successes, this role is quite challenging and he is winningly up to it. Much of the part consists of relatively uninterrupted monologues that Broderick terrifically delivers that range from harrowing recollections to a visit to a brothel that is hilarious. His characterization of this drab, depressed and tormented man is very moving and is a joyous case of riveting star/character acting. [more]