By Tulis McCall
Full disclosure – scheduling was difficult for On Blueberry Hill in terms of reviewer availability. Nobody could do it. I myself was going to pass until a friend of mine emailed to say GO SEE THIS SHOW.
I did – and Holy Katoodles am I glad. I owe the aforementioned friend a bottle of wine or a barrel of monkeys – her choice.
The story of On Blueberry Hill is out of the box. One of those what if, and also what if, and then what if THAT? To begin with, we have no idea why these two men PJ (David Ganly) and Christy (Niall Buggy) are cellmates in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin. Leave it to the Irish to add irony to the name of the prison. The time is 2010. Separately, each man brings forward the tale of how he has come to be thus. Mayhem planned and unplanned did them in. As the 100 minutes unfold, each reveals the odd bits of minutiae such as a person does when recollecting. The color of someone’s face. The smell of a darkened house. True love. Hidden glances. A touch. A dance. A song. A wish.
Mr. Barry starts to draw the circle close and soon it is evident who these characters are in the stories within the story. But how they come to be partnered up in jail is saved for the last.
These are tales of deep sorrow and joy told in the plain language of facts. DJ is a defrocked priest who takes years to come to the truth of his crime. Christy wears his crime on his sleeve, but other truths take their time to worm their way to the surface. Both these actors are accomplished story tellers. They know how to paint with words so that the sea air is in your lungs and the gear shifts of the get away truck settle into your ears.
Ganly chooses to paint in broad strokes that achieve their purpose. This is not a priest of philosophy. This is a man of facts and deeds. Buggy who digs into his story with a laser beam. He focuses like an engineer picking gold flecks off a damp wall. Each syllable is valuable to the man with no future. Self pity is absent. Remorse is a constant like the mist. This is an actor who could make chewing a kernel of wheat into an aria. An immaculate performance indeed.
The story flags a teeny bit as we come round the bend, but in the end it picks itself up and leaps off the edge of the chasm. These two fine actors let their characters fly – and take us with them. Bravo Big Time.
LAST PERFORMANCE February 3 – GO!!!
ON BLUEBERRY HILL – by Sebastian Barry, Directed by Jim Culleton
WITH Niall Buggy and David Ganly
The design team includes Sabine Dargent (set and costume design); Mark Galione (lighting design); and Denis Clohessy (sound design).
Fishamble returns to 59E59 Theaters — 59E59 Theaters (Val Day, Artistic Director; Brian Beirne, Managing Director) is thrilled to present the US premiere of ON BLUEBERRY HILL , written by Sebastian Barry and directed by Jim Culleton. For a limited engagement through Sunday, February 3. The performance schedule is Tuesday – Friday at 7:15 PM; Saturday at 2:15 PM & 7:15 P M; Sunday at 2:15 PM. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59 th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Single tickets are $25 – $35 ($24.50 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call the59E59 Box Office at 646 – 892 – 7999 or visit www.59e59.org .