Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Distant Music"

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note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Beverly Creasey

Bottoms Up!
"Distant Music" in Lowell

By Beverly Creasey

What could be niftier than a play set in a bar which is actually set in a bar! Lager with the laughs, guffaws with your Guinness! DISTANT MUSIC (at the Old Court pub through April 21) is James McLindon’s comic draught of a tale about longing and losing and moving on. Director Jerry Bisantz never stints on the comedy--- so you can count on an over the top Irish bartender, in the classic Barry Fitzgerald mold, with an aphorism for every occasion and an indisputable fact for every argument. Jonathan Popp is clearly having a ball, making the barkeep smart as a whip and cagey as a cougar.

McLindon brews up a passel of problems for the three characters huddled in the back room, trying to sort out their lives. The barkeep has the chance, at long last, to go home to the old country. But can he leave his bully pulpit behind the bar? Will the Harvard prof leave the sheltered cocoon of academe and take the judgeship he’s been offered? Will he get the girl he’s pined for all these years? Will she leave the order? (If the nun predicament rings a bell, you may remember Jack Neary’s FIRST NIGHT---leading me to wonder if all good Catholic boys fall in love with nuns at one time or another in their lives…but I digress.)

In McLindon’s yarn, the sister may leave the church but it may not be for the professor. McLindon sets the story in Cambridge before the predatory priest scandal. All Cardinal Law (Here called Cardinal Right—get it?) has to fear are nuns who want the rights and privileges of priests. He didn’t know how lucky he was, eh? But I digress once more.

McLindon digresses all over the place, offering recitations of James Joyce, bits of historical background and even a reference to CASABLANCA --- yet another story set in a bar. The digressions, thankfully, are hilarious for the most part. Phil Thompson brings an aloof nobility to the jaded jurist and Sally Nutt gets to do the rebel thing as the sister more than capable of holding her own in a sanctuary --- or a bar. Ron Dion’s set is perfection, from the real taps to the Robert Bryan’s exquisite portrait of a boxer behind the bar. Here’s lookin’ at ya!

"Distant Music" (13 - 21 April)
@ The Old Court Pub, 3931 Central Street, LOWELL MA

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