By Holli Harms
Two By Synge, The Tinker’s Wedding, and In the Shadow of the Glen.
Irish Rep has gifted us two of John Millington Synge’s extraordinary early works that are rarely if ever performed. They are haunting, disturbing, surprising, and humorous accounts of the life of the desperately poor in Ireland’s early twentieth century. Both pieces are about the hustlers of poverty, the wretched, the fierce, the charming, those who need to have their way, and those who drift with the tides and believe in the beauty of life. Starving, desperate, calculating people where the hand of life has dolled them naught, and in order to get anything from life, they must pry open the fingers of that clenched fist and take from it.
The characters in the two one-acts are as strange as the monsters of their country, the leprechauns, banshees, witches, and fairies. Synge has painted for us the philosophy of the desperate, their anger and hate, and their acceptance, “I got happy as I got used to being lonesome.”
The Tinker’s Wedding opens the evening of the two one-acts of these short but full meals. Synge said of The Tinker’s Wedding, “…it is too dangerous to put on in the Abbey.” The danger he’s referring to lies in the treatment of the Catholic Church and its hold over the people, particularly that of the priests of the church who continually pass judgment. The Tinker’s partner wants them to be properly married but life is not on her side and so she must fight back and pry those fingers of life loose in order to get what she wants.
In the Shadow of the Glen is the second and the stronger of the plays. A woman’s man is dead and she must now move on with life. But when a hungry wanderer arrives at her doorstep life is turned upside down and forward and then back again.
Director Charlotte Moore has paired these two works of Synge, weaving them together into a deeply moving evening. She transitions from one to the other with traditional Irish bluesy folk music, sung and played by this tightly woven masterful cast.
Attending this play you will find yourself joyfully in the heart of the Irish countryside with people you would never encounter anywhere else. You will be the better for the encounter, especially by standouts Terry Donnelly and Jo Kinsella who are fierce flames of fire burning the stage up.
You are in for a rare treat with this production.
Two by Synge, written by John Millington Synge, directed by Charlotte Moore.
The cast of Two by Synge: Ciaran Bowling, Terry Donnelly, Sean Gormley, John Keating, and Jo Kinsella.
Two by Synge will feature scenic design by Daniel Geggatt, costume design by David Toser, lighting design by Michael O’Connor, and original music and sound design by Nathanael Brown. Christine Lemme is the production stage manager.
Two by Synge at Irish Repertory Theatre (132 West 22nd Street) in the W. Scott McLucas Studio Theatre.
Performances: April 13th to May 22nd, Wednesdays at 2:30pm & 7:30pm, Thursdays at 7pm, Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 2:30pm & 7:30pm, Sundays at 2:30pm
Running Time: 75 Minutes with no intermission
** You will need Proof of full vaccination and a photo ID.
All guests must wear a properly fitting approved face mask over their nose and mouth at all times in the theatre, even while in their seats.