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Off Broadway

I Found Two Types of Love on Fishamble’s On Blueberry Hill

I Found Two Types of Love on Fishamble’s On Blueberry Hill

Basking in its Irish Catholic roots, Fishamble brings playwright Sebastian Barry’s  compellingly lyrical play, On Blueberry Hill to Origin Theatre’s 1st Irish Festival presented at the 59E59 Theaters. Beautifully written in dueling monologue form, Barry (The Pride of Parnell Street), one of Ireland’s finest playwrights, climbs up the winding path of love and forgiveness, and plunges it forward into the murky waters of Ireland’s coast to find out what it all means to two fatherless men. Played strongly and sincerely by David Ganly (Donmar London’s Aristocrats) as the young PJ and Niall Buggy (MTC/Crucible’s Translations) as the older Christy, the two fluctuate between pain and happiness, confessing their stories of love, desire, and companionship as poetically eternal. Half the pleasure is their dynamic and engaging delivery, while the other lies strongly in the dense sweet storytelling of paternal love smashing head first into the passionate love of young innocence, that the Irish Catholic faith can not tolerate.

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Niall Buggy. Photos by Patrick Redmond.

The cell (and costumes), designed by Sabine Dargent (Abbey Theatre’s Sive), with precise lighting by Mark Galione (Fishamble’s Spinning), and sound design by Denis Clohessy (Fishamble’s Silent) sit solidly in the center of the stage, leaving no room for escape for the two souls sentenced. They inhabit the bunk bed like caged but patient animals, vibrating with the honest intent to fall, like a wounded little bird through the cold biting wind and air to the sharp rocks below.  The two pull us in, magnificently with their sweet sing-song Irish brogue that tremble and flit, keeping us firmly searching their engaging eyes for clues where the two pathways are leading and how they will eventually cross.  A young man’s love for another, another one’s love for his soon to be wife and son, and the love for a son’s mother, all exist exquisitely and are shared quietly between the two. And then it clicks, in an instant with a subtle but heart-breaking thrust, stabbing forth a tale that binds these two in a lifetime of hate, rage, repentance, and forgiveness. Even when the tidal waves of coincidence crash inauthentically with a force of God-less power, the bonding is real and the pain is deep. All this back and forth works its magic, thanks to the extremely grounded work of its two compelling actors and On Blueberry Hill‘s talented director, Jim Culleton, Fishamble’s award-winning artistic director. We stay glued to the wind-swept pathway to the cliff, and feel the harsh winds of a young man’s passion and self-hatred claw painfully at our skin. We experience the anger, the outrage, the confusion, and the loving care of forgiveness as it washes over. “Why is that all so fuckin’ marvelous?”, but it truly is, because On Blueberry Hill, the yearning and the pain of confusion and love is sublime.

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David Ganly. Fishamble’s On Blueberry Hill. Photos by Patrick Redmond.For more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Off Broadway
@#frontmezzjunkies

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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