By Holli Harms
The play opens with Máire (embodied by Marie Mullen), widowed, 67, in bed enjoying a cigarette. She is relishing the smoke and the aftermath of her newfound and burgeoning sexual being. She has spent the night with a man who has opened her to love and kindness, to herself and her body, to what she believes is the great turning point in her life – this man and their inevitable thirst for one another. He is her savior. Maire enjoys her fag as she relays the day before to her good friend Jesus (yes that one), and how it lead up to the splendiferous evening.
Máire grew up in a world of lost and forgotten children, forced by her father, after the death of her mother, to live and work in the Magdalene Laundries. She meets a man who says he loves her and wants her and so she marries him and has his children and when he is cruel to her she turns the other cheek. She lived the life she was told to live by the Catholic Church, unrelenting oppression over women, and yet now in her later years she has found true love, she ached for human touch and kindness, and in this man, she has received it, finally. She will not let it go. She is a woman who has entrusted her life to Jesus and has loved him and now believes she is being granted peace on earth.
Marie Mullen is enthralling, captivating. and mesmerizing as Maire. Playwright Deirdre Kinahan’s words are full of humor and depth and heartache and lust and love, and we feel right along with Maire her joy at discovering herself, at having her desires finally fulfilled, desires she had buried so deep she is surprised that they have survived. She is glowing, but not the glow of beautiful serenity, no, she is an animal uncaged, set free to finally taste and smell and be herself. We are rooting for her. We want this wonderful creature to never be caged again.
Except, Máire’s son, Mel ( Jamie O’Neill) arrives to tear through his mother’s happiness. To administer, what he believes is, a truth serum his mother will understand and with this truth willingly allow herself to once again be caged. Maire fights to stay free, to have this love, and fights with words that lacerate not only her son but herself. Both of their words cut deep, creating a battle and leaving the stage dripping with their familial blood, not seen, but deeply deeply felt.
Deirdre Kinahan has created a powerful 70-minute tour de force that tears at the heart and head.
Louise Lowe not so much directs the production, as helps guide these two remarkable actors through the tumbles and turns of this prodigious tale. In the end, we are left with the hope of hope. Hope like Máire that her mate Jesus allows humans second chances into substantial change so powerful they may no longer recognize themselves.
Irish Repertory Theatre presents Landmark Productions World Stage Premiere of The Saviour Written By Deirdre Kinahan, Directed by Louise Lowe
With Marie Mullen and Jamie O’Neill
Creative Team: Scene and Lighting Ciaran Bagnall, Costume Design Joan O’Clery, Sound Design Aoife Kavanagh, Production Stage Manager Karen Evanouskas.
Irish Rep 132 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011. TICKETS
Wednesday: 2pm & 7pm
Saturday: 2pm & 7pm
Running Time 70 minutes with no intermission
Runs through August 13, 2023