Howie the Rookie's January United States debut at New York City's P.S. 122 was highly successful, winning rave reviews and strong ticket sales. The good word-of-mouth has followed Mark O'Rowe's two-man Irish play to San Francisco, where the show will add six more performances at the Magic Theatre. The dates for the run - Feb. 2-March 4 - remain the same, but Howie will now play three Tuesday nights (Feb. 13, 20, 27) and three Sunday nights (Feb. 18, 25 and March 4).
A feud of honor over a lice-infested mattress and a lost Siamese fighting fish launch the story of Howie the Rookie — aka the stories of Rookie Lee (Shiels) and Howie Lee (Kelly). Rookie's the good-looking one, a young hoodlum who "breaks hearts and hymens" and is on the run from both Dublin gangster Ladyboy and Howie, who is seeking revenge for his friend Peaches. O'Rowe is also the author of The Aspidistra Code and From Both Hips.
Miuke Bradwell, artistic director of the Bush Theatre, directs with Aidan Kelly and Karl Shiels, original stars of the play's London run at the Bush Theatre, returning to the piece for the U.S. runs. Both Kelly and Shiels appeared opposite one another in Comedians, for which Shiels won an Evening Herals Best Actor Award. Kelly, who won a Sunday Tribune Award for Howie, has also performed in Juno and the Paycock, Sucking Dublin, The Shaugraun, Philadelphia, Here I Come! and The Dreamcatcher. Shiels other credits include This Lime Tree Bower, At Swim Two Birds, The Duchess of Malfi, Guys and Dolls and As Is.
Es Devlin designs the Bush Theatre production with lighting design by Simon Bennison. The Bush, founded in 1972, was a starting point for many new playwrights, among them Tony Kushner (Angels in America), Sharman MacDonald (When I was a Girl I Used to Scream), Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful Thing) and Conor McPherson (The Weir).
Tickets are $30-$25. The Magic Theatre is located in Building D at the Fort Mason Center on Marina Boulevard. For reservations, (415) 441-8822. The Magic Theatre is on line at http://www.magictheatre.org. — By Christine Ehren
and Robert Simonson