Theatre Mirror Reviews - "By The Bog of Cats"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark


"By The Bog of Cats"

By Marina Carr
Directed by Rose Carlson

Set & Sound Design by Rose Carlson
Costume Design by Debbi Hobson
Lighting Design by Greg Jutkiewicz
Sound Design by Dan Moses Schreier
Dance & Fight Choreography by Tim Rubel
Dialect Coach Dani Duggan
Music Supervision/Dance Arrangements by Vadim Feichtner
Producers Rose Carlson, Dani Duggan, Alex Zielke
Assistant Stage Manager Sarah Simons
Stage Manager Alex Zielke

Hester Swane........................................Dani Duggan
The Ghost Fancier/Waiter/Joseph Swane's Ghost...Jordan Harrison
Josie Kilbride..................Holly Payne-Strange/Sarah Smith
Mrs. Kilbride....................................Ann Marie Shea
Catwoman............................................Liz Robbins
Carthage Kilbride..................................Charles Hess
Caroline Cassidy....................................Ellen Adair
Xavier Cassidy....................................Phil Thompson
Monica..............................................Jean Sheikh
Father Willow......................................Fred Robbins
Voice of Josie Swane............................Katie McDonnell

This play --- produced by its star, its director, and its stage manager --- revolves around Hester Swane (Dani Duggan), born in a tinker's caravan at the edge of the Bog of Cats and determined that she and her daughter will live nowhere else. But the play opens before dawn of the day on which that daughter's father (Charles Hess) plans to "marry, UP" with the daughter (Ellen Adair) of the richest farm-owner of the area (Phil Thompson). Like Ireland itself, in Greg Jutkiewicz' moody and musical lights all these proud, willful arguers are haunted by their conflicted, crime-filled pasts. They remember things differently, demand of one another impossible things, warn and threaten and unleash inevitable tragic violence --- all in a melodic lilt of language, all interrupted by some of the funniest town characters ever seen on the Devanaughn stage.

Playwright Marina Carr and Director Rose Carlson bring to that stage strong, eerie images. The play opens with Hester Swane walking the margin of the bog cradling the body of a dead black swan in her arms, and the first person she meets (Jordan Harrison) says he fancies ghosts but has arrived a day before a new ghost appears. Then the Cat Woman (Liz Robbins), a blind old crone of a seer, comes to have her prescient say. There's a concerned neighbor (Jean Sheikh), a ridiculously egocentric mother of the groom (Ann Marie Shea), and even a bumbling parrish priest (Fred Robbins) come to bless a hilarious wedding-feast interrupted by two candidates for bride. In its outspoken humor and searing drama, this play is Ireland in all its larger than life, mythic extremes.

And even more than that. Since I don't read press-packets, it was a comment by someone overheard in the audience that tipped me to the origins of this big, brawling play: Medea! And looking back through my memory of this very Irish drama (and notes in the program), all the clues I ignored are really there. And the performances --- in accents so compelling that in the act-break I asked for a candy bar in a brogue --- are excellent.

"The Bog of Cats" (12 - 29 October)
DEVANAUGHN THEATRE COMPANY
"791" Tremont Street, BOSTON MA
1 (866)811-4111

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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