Easy to Fall for Lamb’s Delightful ‘Outside Mullingar’

Brian Mackey and Rachael VanWormer (photos courtesy of Ken Jacques).

Brian Mackey and Rachael VanWormer (photos courtesy of Ken Jacques).

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many people are in the mood to see a memorable love story. Luckily, Lamb’s Players Theatre is staging a terrific one with the romantic comedy-drama, Outside Mullingar.

Opening in 2009 in the midlands of Ireland, Anthony Reilly (Brian Mackey) and Rosemary Muldoon (Rachael VanWormer) are longtime neighbors who clearly have feelings for each other. Despite acting resentful towards Anthony because of an incident in their childhood, she is deeply in love with him. While Rosemary seems ready to start a relationship with Anthony, he acts nervous and unsure about whether he wants to pursue a serious romance.

During this time, Anthony’s dad, Tony (Producing Artistic Director, Robert Smyth) tries to figure out whether to sell his farm to his nephew, or if he should give his son the land.

Writer, John Patrick Shanley, combines broad humor and serious moments focused on death, loss, and regrets. He balances the contrasting tones seamlessly, which makes the characters’ struggles feel real and grounded.

Early on, Shanley’s writing is sometimes hard to follow as extended dialogue covers the complicated history of both the Reilly’s and the Muldoon’s. While I was sometimes confused by the fictional events discussed, his tale becomes more straightforward as Anthony and Rosemary continue to spend time together.

Like his script to the Oscar-winning movie, “Moonstruck,” Shanley is equally invested in romantic and familial connections. He gets the audience to care equally about the sparks between Anthony and Rosemary and the devoted love they share for their families.

Robert Smyth, Brian Mackey, and Deborah Gilmour Smyth.

Robert Smyth, Brian Mackey, and Deborah Gilmour Smyth.

Lamb’s staging stars two real life married couples. Mackey and VanWormer are quirky, hilarious, and sometimes charming as Anthony and Rosemary, and Mr. Smyth and Associate Artistic Director, Deborah Gilmour Smyth are equally funny and touching as Anthony’s sarcastic father, Tony, and Rosemary’s caring and empathetic mom, Aoife.

Mr. Smyth, Ms. Gilmour Smyth, and Associate Artistic Director, Kerry Meads, direct the roughly 90-minute interpretation with wonderful pacing. The trio excels equally well in sequences that are humorous and scenes that are sorrowful and introspective.

Mike Buckley’s set, Jemima Dutra’s costumes, and Nathan Peirson’s lighting capture life at the main Irish village, and Ms. Smyth’s audio features beautiful music, including instrumental pieces and a few renditions of the classic folk tune, “Wild Mountain Thyme.”

Comical and heartfelt Outside Mullingar celebrates the importance of relationships and family through Shanley’s sharp prose. It’s a strong beginning to Lamb’s 2024 season.

Show times are Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m, Thursdays at 7:00 p.m, Fridays at 7:00 p.m, Saturdays at 2:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.

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Lamb’s Players Theatre
1142 Orange Ave. Coronado CA 92118 Work Phone: 691.437.6000 Website: LPT website
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