Sunday, August 09, 2015

Gloucester Stage Presents The New England Premiere of "The New Electric Ballroom" by Enda Walsh

How appropriate for Gloucester Stage to mount a production of Enda Walsh's Obie-winning play, "The New Electric Ballroom."  Although set in an Irish coastal fishing village, there are universal truths that apply to almost all fishing communities.  Boredom, gossip, petty grudges, class hierarchy, mind-numbing routine, and deep loneliness are not the sole property of the fishing village that Enda has created set on the west coast of Ireland.  These are dynamics that wash in with tides all over the world.

Here is how the playbill describes this work by the same playwright who brought us the stunning "Once":

About the Play From the author of the musical Once comes a dark comedy about three sisters living in a small town on the coast of Ireland. The youngest, Ada, works at the local fish-packing plant, but Breda and Clara stay home and relive their teenage encounter with a 1950s rocker at the New Electric Ballroom. Their surreal routine is interrupted by Patsy, a fishmonger who ends up offering the sisters more than just the catch of the day. Winner of the OBIE Playwriting Award.Some strong language and adult situationsRunning time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
Why It’s for You There’s a stamina and ruggedness in those who live and work by the sea. There exists a pride in that heritage and also, sometimes a cost. Enda Walsh’s wistful portrait is one all of us experience when we ponder dreams of what might have been, given different circumstances. His sisters must come together to support one another through the disappointment of lost dreams and the hope and expectation of dreams to come. Come savor the language, the joy, and the heartache in this magical tale.

L to R: Patsy: Derry Woodhouse; Clara: Marya Lowry; 
Breda: Nancy E. Carroll and Ada: Adrianne Krstansky
"The New Electric Ballroom"
Gloucester Stage
Through August 15
Photo by Gary Ng

Robert Walsh directs with a keen eye and a steady hand an outstanding cast of four actors.  Nancy E. Caroll as Breda, Marya Lowry as Clara, Adrianne Krstansky as Ada and Derry Woodhouse as Patsy have us believing that we are peeking through the window of a humble Irish cottage.  The three sisters live a bizarre and stultifying life, with OCD reigning supreme as the sisters repeat routines and stories that seem to be the skeleton upon which they have built their meager and isolated lives.  Patsy washes in with the tides to deliver a fresh load of fish.  He is usually ignored or reviled, but on one special day, he is invited to come in and sit.  He and Ana are prompted to take some risks to break out of their calcified routines, and hearts are broken.  The ensemble interact with one another flawlessly in their stylized and idiosyncratic universe, often replaying painful memories of visits to The New Electric Ballroom and its parking lot where advances are made and rules are broken.  Each of these fine actors establishes a firm persona for their character.The scene in which Patsy and Ana risk connecting is in itself electric and heart-rending.

Mr. Walsh the playwright and Mr. Walsh the director lead the audience to a deep examination of loneliness and the strange ways individuals and families choose to deal with isolation and marginalization.  The set design by Jenna McFarland Lord is authentic in its feel, Costumes by Miranda Giuleo fit the place and the times, Lighting by Russ Swift and Sound by Arshan Gallus all help to set the right Gaelic tone.

This production will run through August 15. Why not plan two trips in one!  Come to Gloucester for a meal and a play and be transported on a voyage to a quaint fishing village in Ireland.



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