The Cleavers have nothing on this 1950s family.
The Donellys, an Irish family living on the east coast of Ireland, show us everything that 1950s sitcoms tried to hide. This family shows us that even about 60 years ago, and miles away from the U.S., people still experienced the same emotions, desires, compulsions, fears and yearnings that we do today, only in different clothes and with Irish accents.
Be prepared to hold back tears or let them fall freely if you’re brave enough. Whatever the case, this heart-capturing story gives a whole new meaning to the words love, life and family.
The Road Theatre Company in North Hollywood, with producers Darryl Johnson, Julie Fulton and Taylor Gilbert, did an excellent job in the production of “And Neither Have I Wings to Fly,” written by Anne Noble and directed by Scott Cummins.
Sisters Eveline and Kathleen Donnelly are quite the opposite, but their love for one another is undeniable. The outgoing Kathleen is engaged to a sweet, polite man named Leo. But she has fallen for an actor, Freddy, and can’t decide between her fianc? who loves her dearly, and Freddy, who she is head-over-heels in love with.
Leo’s brother Charlie comes into town to visit for the wedding. Charlie has been traveling from city to city with no place to call home for seven years, and the last thing on his mind is love, that is, until he meets the reserved Eveline. But Eveline has other things on her mind. She feels obligated to take care of her widowed father, Peter, while holding in secret dreams of going away to a university.
Among all of the confusion, Eveline and Kathleen’s mother appears as a ghost, something that would usually calm the heart of a bereaved daughter, but not Eveline, who wishes her mother would finally leave the house and take her advice with her.
From beginning to end, the play is amazing, leaving the audience to feel like part of the family. This may be due to the unique way in which the theatre is set up and utilized. The stage, which is ground-level, gives the feeling that the seats are simply an extension of this family’s home.
The beautiful set, designed by Desma Murphey, consists of the family and dining rooms, kitchen and upstairs of the Donelly’s home. The actors make use of the entire stage and even parts of the theatre, giving the audience a feeling of complete inclusion.
This play breaks the norms of production and direction, as instead of walking behind the set to enter backstage, the characters walk out of the doors of their home into the front and backyard, which are actually the aisles of the theatre. Therefore, if characters goes outside to take a therapeutic walk or storms out the door in a drunken rage, they might walk right by an audience member, having to stay in character the entire time.
Every member of the cast plays their part exceptionally well, working off of each other’s energy for a maximum effect.
Being able to see various rooms of the house at the same time is key. While one character may be eating in the kitchen, two others may be conversing in the living room, with another resting upstairs. The actors don’t simply leave the stage because their characters don’t have a speaking part at the time. This is what makes the play so believable and realistic.
As many people did in the 1950s, most of the characters in the play smoke cigarettes. One of the best parts is being able to see the actors actually light and smoke the cigarettes and cigars, filling the theatre with the scent of cigarette smoke, or flavored tobacco. A scent that may be annoying in real life, it adds a surprising and pleasurable element in the play, allowing the audience not only to use their senses of sight and sound to experience the play, but also their sense of smell.
Linda de Vries deserves much praise for her work as dialect coach to the actors. The accents are impeccable and sound completely natural.
Ann Noble, who wrote the play and plays the part of Eveline, stands out. She portrays various emotions, outstandingly. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to call out to her or wait for her to look at you so that you can give her a comforting smile, forgetting that she’s a modern day woman, simply playing the part of Eveline Donnelly.
This play will touch anyone who has a heart, anyone who has had dreams, anyone who has been hurt, anyone who has been in love. Watch out RedBull because this play gives you wings.
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