The short and cold month of February is over, but the season of love will continue into March in the romantic-comedy play “Outside Mullingar,” currently on stage at the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP).
Written by John Patrick Shanley, “Outside Mullingar” delivers all the wholesomeness and laughter that a romantic comedy should have, while adding a rural Irish countryside twist and incorporating elements of both comedy and tragedy.
This endearing romantic comedy is set in the Irish Midlands and centers on two introverts, Anthony Reilly (Chris Shonka) and Rosemary Muldoon (Laura Beeghly), who grew up next door to one another on neighboring farms. In secret, Rosemary fell in love with Anthony when she was just six years old. Anthony hasn’t been emotionally available since he had his heart broken in a previous relationship and has vowed never to be in a relationship with another woman again. For the now middle-aged pair to finally connect, they have to get past their own obliviousness and an ongoing family property dispute.
The drama does not only center on the plot’s two soon-to-be lovebirds. We are also introduced to Rosemary’s mother, Aoife Muldoon (Judy Radcliff), and Anthony’s father, Tony Reilly (Don Keelan-White) in the beginning. Both characters are favorites of mine due to their endearing personalities and jokes that will keep you laughing.
Surprisingly, I thought the narrative and characters to be a breath of fresh air in comparison to the generic Hollywood romantic comedies filled with cute miscommunications that we are accustomed to witnessing. The narrative captivates the viewer with likable characters who are brimming with personality and a genuine perspective on life, and the changes and problems that accompany it. Change may be frightening, as it is for Rosemary and Anthony, who are battling their own nightmares of loss, melancholy, anxiety and hopelessness. However, the lesson learned — arguably the play’s entire theme — is that one cannot avoid the difficult without also avoiding the good.
Director Susan Baer Collins and the production crew did an excellent job ensuring that this play was memorable. Despite the stage’s diminutive size, each scene and stage design brilliantly conveyed the emotion and atmosphere. Everything from the lighting to the sound effects of rain striking the shed outside enhanced the audience’s immersion and realism. With no intermission, the production staff also performed an excellent job moving between scenes.
With plenty of heart, laughter and endearing characters, this romantic comedy is worth squeezing into your daily plans even as the month of love winds down.
“Outside Mullingar” will run at the Omaha Community Playhouse from Feb. 17 to March 13, 2022, with performances on Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets may be purchased by calling (402) 553-0800, visiting OmahaPlayhouse.com or visiting the OCP Box Office.