Like Elton John’s tribute to Marilyn Monroe with Candle in the Wind, “Maeve’s House” is Ireland’s Abbey Theatre star Eamon Morrissey’s epitaph to Dublin-er turned New Yorker Maeve Brennan, and the solo show is done with grace and delicacy.
Eamon, who wrote and performed the piece, has a Mr. Roger’s-style presence on the stage that immediately invites the audience in to the imaginary living room to hear the tale of the tortured, yet brilliant, soul of Maeve Brennan. Brennan wrote short stories for the New Yorker Magazine, coining the name “The Long Winded Lady”. Maybe it’s my generation, but prior to “Maeve’s House” I’d never heard of Brennan’s work and now that I’ve seen the solo show I’m curious to read her stories.
Eamon links his life to Maeve, highlighting the irony that the two of them happened to grow up in the same house in Dublin and how their lives were in many ways linked forever due to that. Eamon points out, over and over, that Maeve bases a lot of her stories on the house they both grew up in (albeit 20 years apart) and therefore is a kindred spirit.
At some points chilling, Eamon Morrissey’s recitation of excerpts of Brennan’s work help pull the otherwise slow story along as the audience is led into the deeper, and tragic, end to Brennan’s career. I found myself swept away in Maeve’s words, and Eamon does a fabulous job reliving the crumbling characters in her tales, highlighting how fragile existence can be if we allow ourselves to be our worst enemy.
There are times when the 70 minute show can seem longer than that, and I had to pay extra attention to what was happening, as the story telling style can be a lot of exposition in order to get to the climax of a scene. There are no frills or big movements in the show, but Morrissey carries himself with a great deal of dignity and takes his time, creating a space where the story is the most important theatrical device (not necessarily the lighting, sound or set).
To watch a true fan tell you about how much they love their idol can be very sweet, if it’s kept brief and to the point. I felt the love for Brennan in the theatre, and Morrissey (with a lovely irish brogue) is charming to listen to. The show felt long at times, sometimes getting repetitive, but overall, was a fascinating look at a brilliant mind and the life she led and how she affected those around her. This was a charming piece, calling the demons of a brilliant, but tortured writer in to the spot light for all to admire and miss, as Eamon so clearly does.
Presented by The Abbey Theatre and the Irish Arts Center, Directed by: Gerard Stembridge, Written and Performed by: Eamon Morrissey, Lighting Designer: Kevin McFadden, Sound Designer: Ben Delaney, Set and Costume Design: Niamh Lunny
MAEVE’S HOUSE is playing at the Irish Arts Center located at 553 W. 51st Street, NYC.
Tickets from $28-$35 and are available at www.irishartscenter.org
Show will run from October 17-November 10; Wed-Sat at 8pm, Sat at 2pm and Sun at 3pm. (There is no show Nov. 9th at 8pm.)