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Maryann Plunkett

The Michaels

November 10, 2019

Richard Nelson’s latest play, "The Michaels" (subtitled a “Conversation During Difficult Times”) is a thing of beauty. Low-key like his "Apple Family" quartet and his "The Gabriels" trilogy, it is Chekhovian in the best sense of the word: very little happens but life passes by. The characters who sit in a Rhinebeck, New York,  kitchen (also the setting for the other seven plays) talk of life and death, love and desire, memories and accomplishments. They reveal secrets and ponder changes and ultimately make decisions. Not much takes place but then again all of life occurs in the course of the play’s two hours. [more]

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 Lucky Ones

April 13, 2018

After the first song, “We are in the house where I grew up,” says Abigail, with the bacon and eggs and toast and tea in the morning, on the first day of a new school year. Adding to the confusion are Abigail’s many family members, including her sisters--one of whom is named Emily (Ashley Pérez Flanagan), not to be confused with her new friend Emma (Adina Verson)--her parents, her aunt (the stalwart Maryann Plunkett) and her cousins. Another part of the problem is that there are simply too many people to be contained on the small stage of the Connelly Theater, which may be why the majority of them begin the show in the balcony in the rear of the auditorium. (The Lucky Ones has been directed with an overcrowded zeal by Anne Kauffman.) [more]

Women of a Certain Age – Play 3 of The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family

November 14, 2016

Told in real time from five to seven PM on Election Day, November 8, 2016, not much happens in the play but as the Gabriel women talk, they reveal their hopes, their fears, their desires and their memories. By the end of the play, we know everything there is to know about them. Under Nelson’s direction, his cast of six who now have played these people in three plays since February 27 (first "Hungry" and then "What Did You Expect?" which began previews on Sept. 19) are not so much acting these characters as living them. [more]

What Did You Expect? – Play 2 of The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family

September 21, 2016

Like his "Apple Family Plays," Nelson’s "The Gabriel" cycle all take place in a kitchen on a specific day in almost real time using the same six actors to play the family members. These are occasional plays which define a moment in time, as well as being chamber plays, small cast plays set in one place. Not much happens but much gets said and discussed. Described as “Chekhovian” by Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public, "What Did You Expect?" is less so as there really is no dramatic event as in such Chekov plays as "The Cherry Orchard" or "The Sea Gull." However, leisurely told and extremely detailed, "What Did You Expect?" offers its own rewards but may not be for all theatergoers. It is an evening of excellent talk which defines a family of have nots in our own time. [more]

Hungry: Play I of The Gabriels

March 19, 2016

"Hungry" is both an occasional play (written for this moment in time) and a chamber play. Not much happens but a great deal is implied. It will not please all theatergoers. However, it will be interesting to see how Nelson develops the next two plays in the series, "What Did You Expect?" and "Women of a Certain Age," with the same actors. Demonstrating their expertise, the cast is real enough to make you think they are not performing. [more]