Irish Authors Held Hostage
nytheatre.com review by Josephine Cashman
August 15, 2004
Tucked away at the Greenwich Street Theater is the winning Irish Authors Held Hostage. Wittily written by John Morogiello and directed by Martin Blanco, the show presents a series of “variations” where famous Irish authors are being held captive by an equally varied bunch of International Terrorists. The cast of four plays many different characters full of life, with richly varied and well-executed dialects and a terrific sense of the absurd. The vaudeville-inspired scenes, complete with cards announcing which Irish Author has been abducted, deliver a charming, educational, and comical show. A working knowledge of Irish Literature is helpful when seeing the play, but it is by no means necessary.
Terence Heffernan does a standout job playing his many terrorists, from a North Korean to a Basque separatist to a Colombian terrorist straight from a re-run of Miami Vice. “All these accents confuse me,” one of Heffernan’s radicals confesses when he realizes that Emily Bronte, his latest hostage, is not, in fact, Irish. His most hilarious turn is the Middle Eastern terrorist who is seduced by his hostage, the flamboyant Oscar Wilde.
Kevin Carolyn also plays terrorists and Irish authors. His Sean O’Casey is outstanding, and his redneck terrorist who has kidnapped James Joyce is quite good as he finds himself bonding with the author of Finnegan’s Wake, realizing that they both share a love of alcohol and come from countries “founded on God and guns.”
John Morogiello is great as he plays his way through a multitude of Irish Authors: First there is Yeats, whom no one wants to kidnap (much to his dismay), then Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and J.M. Synge, but it is his Bernard Shaw that brings down the house as he theatrically critiques his own capture and consequential interrogation.
Last but certainly not least is Lori Boyd who is comical and charming. Her turn as the lusty Emily Bronte is quite funny and her old and batty Lady Gregory is marvelous.
The “variations” are broken up by live musicians playing Irish music and while it was gorgeous to hear, it sometimes went on a bit too long and broke up the flow of the scenes.
The reason for taking the Irish Authors hostage is never made clear, and the play lacks the strong ending it deserves, but nonetheless, Irish Authors Held Hostage is a delicious romp of a play. Grab a Guinness and check it out!