Seanachai Theatre Company, at the Body Politic Theatre.
Following the death of her mother, Miss Eveline Donnelly reluctantly abandons her dream of a university education, feeling it’s her duty to stay with her father. Miss Kathleen Donnelly, however, readily jettisons her plans to marry the bookish Leo Doyle, embarking instead on a romance with a roguish summer-stock thespian. Complicating matters further is the introduction of Leo’s brother Charlie, a drifter who finds himself inexplicably attracted to the sensible Eveline. And then there’s the ghost of the late Mrs. Donnelly, who will not leave the family she loves until everything is in order.
For this family drama set in 1950s Ireland, Chicago playwright Ann Noble has done her research well: though she’s too young to have firsthand knowledge of the 50s, And Neither Have I Wings to Fly captures perfectly–or at least plausibly–the flavor of its period and of a lace-curtain Irish clan who could just as easily have decided their destinies on the shores of Lake Michigan. Director Robin Stanton and a superlative cast of vocally agile and psychologically attentive actors ease us through the script’s swiftly changing moods with nary a trace of whiplash, right up to the happy ending–for which we fervently hope, so much have these characters come to mean to us.
And Neither Have I Wings to Fly, arriving after three decades of nonlinear literary montages, represents a return to the well-made play. So one need not be Irish to enjoy this auspicious premiere production nor to appreciate the return to craftsmanship it represents.