Category: Archive

Creedon’s plays focus on Cork

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

That phrase could have served as the linchpin behind the Irish Repertory Theatre’s appealingly modest production of a pair of ambitious one-act plays by Cork-based dramatist Conal Creedon, “After Luke” and “When I Was God.”
In Lex Liang’s minimalist set, the Rep stage is virtually bare, apart from a vertical panel or two, a bench which doubles as a car seat, and a low slung table which is mainly used for one of the play’s “children” to run circles around.
The plays are part of Creedon’s ambitious “Second City Trilogy,” with the third play, “The Cure,” a monologue steeped in Cork lore and history, remaining unproduced due to the potentially taxing length of the overall venture.
Taken on their own merits, “After Luke” and “When I Was God” are eloquent, humorous and sometimes moving examinations of the complicated, not always easily resolved relationships uniting, and sometimes separating, fathers and their sons.
Two of the potentially lethal traps facing adult actors are being asked to play small children, and being required to portray characters of the opposite sex. Playwright Creedon has arranged things so that two members of the strong three-actor cast shoulder those risks, in one case repeatedly.
The actors gathered by director Tim Ruddy are fully up to the challenge, and bring genuine heart and wit to everything they do.
“After Luke,” the first of the two plays, bears a relationship to St. Luke’s parable, the Prodigal Son, lifted, transplanted and played out against the golden days of the “Celtic Tiger,” Ireland’s economic miracle, now just a bittersweet memory.
All three members of the Rep cast appear in “After Luke,” with Colin Lane as “Dadda” and Michael Mellamphy and Gary Gregg appearing as his warring offspring, “Maneen,” the younger lad, and the favored older boy, “Son,” which is all his father ever calls him.
In “When I Was God,” Mellamphy is, among other things, the ten-year-old “Dinny,” while Gregg is the aggressive father who pushes his son into participating in hurling. The boy himself would much prefer soccer, which his father dismissively regards as a pretentious and worthless pastime devised by the hated English enemy.
In “After Luke,” the versatile Mellamphy plays, in addition to his argumentative younger self, “Mrs. Foley,” a crusty shopkeeper with an unseen daughter.
The link between “After Luke” and its Biblical cousin lies in the fact that “Maneen,” after a decade in London, has come home, spurred on by reports of Ireland’s newfound wealth. His goal is to profit from the sale of the family’s holdings, which he is convinced have increased greatly in value.
Gregg, making his Rep debut, scores as “Son,” the older brother who has lived resentfully in the shadow of his younger sibling, while Lane is a standout as the boys’ somewhat uncomprehending father.
Corkonian dramatist Creedon has a rich and authentic authorial voice, and a keen grasp of the life he remembers from his boyhood in Ireland’s “second” city.
The unpretentious double bill pairing the Cork writer’s truthful, deceptively simple plays ranks as a decidedly pleasant summer surprise from the Irish Repertory Theatre.

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