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I Hear You and Rejoice

Mikel Murfi is amazing playing a gallery of Irish villagers in his finely written solo play about the funeral of a cranky woman married to a mute cobbler.

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Mikel Murfi in a scene from “I Hear You and Rejoice” (Photo credit: Pat Redmond)

[avatar user=”Darryl Reilly” size=”96″ align=”left” ] Darryl Reilly, Critic[/avatar] Portraying a gallery of Irish townspeople in his self-written solo play I Hear You and Rejoice, actor Mikel Murfi is amazing. Dressed in black trousers with suspenders, a white shirt, black tie and displaying his bare feet, Mr. Murfi employs his vocal and physical prowess to conjure up an entire community on the stage that is bare except for a vintage wooden and leather chair. It’s an exquisite theatrical experience of the purest form.

In a County Sligo town a priest informs us that we’re at the funeral of Kitsy Rainey in 1985. She was a cantankerous woman whose age is unknown as she burned her birth certificate and her life before she took up residence there 33 years ago is a mystery. Among those at the crowded ceremony is her husband of seven years, the mute cobbler Pat Farnon whose hearing and sight is failing.

Exhibiting the dazzling wizardry of someone who trained at the École Jacques Lecoq in Paris, Murfi is breathtaking as he clowns, mimes and barrels all over the space while distinctively rendering each character. His synthetic gray hair, malleable facial features, striking eyes that are in constant motion and affable presence enable him to swiftly shift from one denizen to another and he also channels several simultaneously. He plays Kitsy, Pat, a busybody who runs the newspaper store, a family friend, priests, and an assortment of colorful locals.

Mikel Murfi in a scene from “I Hear You and Rejoice” (Photo credit: Pat Redmond)

Structured as a collage of memories by the different characters and crosscutting between the past and the present, Murfi offers a rich panorama of ordinary lives. By reveling in the mundane details of everyday existence he creates a work that combines humor and pathos with a characteristic Irish dark sensibility.

Murfi’s simple staging craftily serves the material, and in unison with Nick McCall’s artful lighting design, the production has momentum and visual depth.

I Hear You and Rejoice is a sequel to Murfi’s acclaimed solo piece The Man in the Woman’s Shoes. That had its U.S. premiere in 2015 at the Irish Arts Center and both are now playing in repertory at this theater.

I Hear You and Rejoice (performed in repertory through October 21, 2018)

Loco and Reckless Productions

Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51st Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 866–811–4111 or visit

Running time: 85 minutes with no intermission

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