Off Broadway Theater Review: DUBLIN BY LAMPLIGHT (Inis Nua Theatre)

Post image for Off Broadway Theater Review: DUBLIN BY LAMPLIGHT (Inis Nua Theatre)

by Sarah Taylor Ellis on September 28, 2011

in Theater-New York

SHINES BRIGHT BUT GOES DIM

In Michael West’s Dublin by Lamplight, a community theater’s idealistic mission to establish an “Irish National Theatre of Ireland” crosses commedia style with the grim poverty of the nation in 1904, making for a decidedly mixed evening’s entertainment.

Philadelphia-based Inis Nua Theatre brings spectacular life to the stock characters of West’s drama, which takes place on the eve of the Irish National Theater’s premiere performance. The bright-eyed Sarah van Auken plays the unmarried, pregnant costume designer Maggie, who longs to run away with her beloved but inconstant Frank (Jared Michael Delaney) – much to the chagrin of her faithful suitor Jimmy (Michael Doherty). The lower class citizens of West’s play are poor and starving, but theater provides an aspirational respite from reality, develops national pride, and constructs community.

Dublin by Lamplight by Michael West - Inis Nua Theatre – 59E59 – Off Broadway Theater Review by Sarah Taylor EllisA palpable sense of community certainly pervades this production. The actors’ presentational performances are impressive, requiring a precise syncing of bodies in stylized movement. Director Tom Reing orchestrates each scene with a delightfully clean, clocklike precision. The evocative white commedia makeup, an integral part of Maggie Baker’s costume design, highlights each nuanced facial expression. Another highlight of this crisp production is the live underscoring, composed and performed by John Lionarons. Seated behind an old upright piano, his seamless accompaniment heightens the melodramatic plotlines and adds another layer of self-conscious theatricality to the proceedings.

Dublin by Lamplight by Michael West - Inis Nua Theatre – 59E59 – Off Broadway Theater Review by Sarah Taylor EllisUnfortunately, strong performances and stylistic innovation can only sustain interest for so long.

West’s play narratively flounders in Act II. As plot lines fly apart, the audience’s attention flickers and fades. The play-within-a-play – the “Irish National Theatre of Ireland’s” opening show – is particularly well-rendered in design and direction; but the politics often overshadow the personal storylines and flatten the show’s otherwise playful theatricality. Despite impressive production values, then, Dublin by Lamplight ultimately drags to an unsatisfying end.

stellis @ stageandcinema.com

photos by Katie Reing

Dublin by Lamplight
59E59
scheduled to end on October 2
for tickets, visit http://www.59e59.org

Comments on this entry are closed.