Actress Geraldine Hughes plays Molly
New York’s Irish Repertory Theater celebrated 30 years in 2019 and the founders Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O’Reilly know a thing or two about survival. The premier Irish theater group in the U.S. rebuilt its theater in recent years, and throughout its history has produced a bountiful crop of brilliant performances. In these days of self-isolation, the folks at the Rep are determined to keep entertaining people.
The company moved swiftly to digital performances and this coming week it will present a virtual performance of Brian Friel’s “Molly Sweeney.” A brilliant study in psychological isolation, Molly Sweeney, the play seems particularly appropriate for this extraordinary time.
Reached by Irish America, Charlotte Moore, expressed her delight in directing the performance. “Molly Sweeney is one of our favorite Brian Friel plays and one which we consider an important and enlightening marker in today’s climate,” she said.
In the play, which Moore says was one of Mr. Friel’s personal favorites, Molly (Geraldine Hughes) has lived in happy, capable, and independent darkness since she was ten months old. When Frank (Ciaran O’Reilly), her restless, unemployed, and enthusiastic husband, makes her blindness his latest cause, he recruits Dr. Rice (Paul O’Brien), a once famous surgeon who, despite being half-drowned in Irish whiskey, agrees to attempt to restore Molly’s sight.
When the bandages come off, Molly, Frank, and Dr. Rice discover the differences between seeing and understanding as they face the terrible consequences of a medical miracle.
Geraldine Hughes and Ciarán O’Reilly, who are reprising their roles from the acclaimed 2011 Irish Rep production of the play, are joined by Irish Rep regular, Paul O’Brien, who played Dr. Rice in the Keen Company’s production last fall. Moore said that “gathering three Irish Rep favorite actors to portray Friel’s characters has been a special treat when treats are rare and hard to come by.” She added, “I know Mr. Friel would be pleased to know he is contributing to a togetherness of theater-lovers when such gatherings are not allowed. He has always been our hero. Never more than now.”
The Irish Rep’s co-founder Ciaran O’Reilly, added. “We are thrilled to bring Molly Sweeney directly to the homes of our loyal patrons and many new friends. This particular play which tells the story of the blind Molly Sweeney uses three characters in three different locations who speak directly to the audience. It seemed an ideal drama for the digital world.
“We are blessed with the most amazing staff who have fearlessly jumped into our new reality and have created a visceral presence during our time in captivity.”
To learn more about the Irish Rep and Irish America Hall of Fame Members Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly, click here.