The rain falls mainly upstage. The rain is intermittently interesting to watch fall. “It’s raining onstage” someone whispers. It is steady and regular, hardly noticeable except when the LED lights catch a stream of water and then it sparkles just for a moment. That is quite beautiful and melancholic to witness. As John Patrick Shanley’s 2014 “Outside Mullingar” is set just outside the town of Mullingar in Ireland, and as most of the action occurs mainly outside of what transpires on stage, the rain is a perfect metaphor. It gives a sense of Ireland without giving you a cold or a chill or any other physical reaction.
The seven scenes of “Outside Mullingar” feel like a screenplay, leaping over settings and idle chitchat about the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but after Act I’s four scenes and 80 minutes of exposition expire, Act II engages the audience as CapRep Artistic Director Maggie Mancineli-Cahill’s sure touch with lyrical romance massages the play and the slow-burn romance between the outsiders Anthony Reilly (David Keener) and Rosemary Muldoon (the luminescent Kim Stauffer, whose Irish accent is as believable as her Rosemary’s yearning to be loved) builds.
More akin to John Ford’s film version of “The Quiet Man” (the accents here much closer to John Wayne’s Sean Thornton Iowan Irish than Maureen O’Hara’s Mary Kate Danaher Gaelic authenticity), “Outside Mullingar”’s Act II strips the play to Anthony and Rosemary. It is all the better for it. As the pair’s prickly duet lay bare their aches over their “otherness,” i.e., their souls’ individual visions of the world that keeps them outside even their small town’s society, they wend their whirling ways to unity. What makes Anthony and Rosemary outsiders—-”I believe that I am a honey bee but I know what I am” Anthony declares desperately; “There are cures for cancer easier than your moods” he utters in frustration; “I hate the Bible: they ought to call it ‘The Book of Awful Stories’” Rosemary exclaims—makes for a believable and heart-moving climax: “You are a flower.” At that moment, that it rained on-stage matters little when there’s not a dry eye in the house. Fans of happy Irish endings a la “The Quiet Man” should not miss “Outside Mullingar.” Bring a hanky.