note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Beverly Creasey
If your knowledge of Irish politics extends only as far as Paul McCartney's "Give Ireland Back to The Irish" then you'll want to catch the Sugan's sobering production of Gary Mitchell's "Trust".
"Trust" --- like John Ford's stunning 1930's film "The Informer" (set in the 1922 Irish Rebellion) --- demonstrates how callously acts of terror are the plans of choice, and how readily plans go awry.
The family in "Trust" seems like an ordinary, slightly dysfunctional family with the dad out of work and the son always out of school. But families aren't always what they seem.
The frightening thing about "Trust" is that violence comes so easily to these characters. Their historical imperative seems to demand it: to honor the family you have to honor the whole family, including ancestors, including avenging wrongs. It all sounds like a Verdi opera or like "Hamlet" --- seeking revenge for injustices done to your father. Unfortunately it's reality in present day Ireland.
We usually hear about the IRA, but Mitchell shows us the other side. This family is Protestant, and the father is the head of the local paramilitary, the Protestant counterpart to the IRA. The "price of trust" figures in Mitchell's chilling drama: once in an arms deal where the parties view each other with a healthy sense of distrust and again when the trust within the family is tested: once in an arms deal where the parties view each other with a healthy sense of distrust, and again when the trust within the family is tested.
Director Carmel O'Reilly's cast is as tight knit as a family, with every member giving a riveting performance. Joseph Zamparelli Jr.'s powerful portrayal of the father will set your hair on end. He's a man who thinks prison will toughen up his teenage son. He's a man who expects loyalty from his friends but isn't above frisking them just to make sure. His steely countenance and calculated calm in the face of danger make him a frightening stand-in for a loving father. Debra Wise portrays his wife as a feisty fighter, strong enough to stand up to her stone wall of a husband. Billy Meleady gives a quirky, wiry performance as an ex-con who fancies he can intercede in domestic matters and help the severely depressed teenage son. Alex Martinez Wallace perfectly captures the awkward, betwixt and between gawkiness of a confused teenager.
Doug Marsden is wryly amusing as Zamparelli's enthusiastic henchman. Shawn Sturnick makes the gun-dealing army officer both skittish and cocksure. Helen McElwain is all flash as the floozy in way over her head. (Sturnick, McElwain and Peter Wilson's precarious bed set add an unexpected element of danger which has to be seen to be believed.)
O'Reilly's taut production hurtles to its startling (and surprising) conclusion ... leaving me, for one, despairing for the future of Ireland