PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Outside Mullingar — The Boy Next Farm
24 Jan 2014
John Patrick Shanley
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
How did he happen on such an offbeat title? It turns out to be something he has been saying all his life: "Anytime somebody asked, 'Well, where's you're family's farm?', I'd say, 'It's outside Mullingar.' Mullingar is the capital of County Westmeath, and it's about 11 kilometers from the farm. My cousin, Brandon Shanley, who was born on that farm and raised on that farm, was sitting next to me tonight — he was my date — and he said, 'You know, anytime anybody asks me where I am, I always start by saying, 'Well, I'm outside Mullingar.' It's a prosaic title for a poetic play."
His shy-guy protagonist is likewise drawn from real life. "My cousin Anthony lives on that farm in Ireland, and he's never married, and he's a great guy. I know him. I knew his father, Tony, and his mother, Mary — the same names that are in the play — and there are two gates to get on to the farm. Somebody else owned that piece of land, and each time I asked about it, they'd change the subject. So I made up a story."
O'Byrne's wife, Heather Goldenhersh (like him, a Tony nominee for Doubt), arrived with his mom, Nancy O'Byrne, in from Ireland. One of their Tony-winning co-stars from Doubt was in attendance: Adriane Lenox; the other, Cherry Jones, was otherwise engaged inThe Glass Menagerie. And lots of Shanley came over from Ireland, too.
Among the playwrights present and accounted for were Matthew Lopez, Sharr White (whose Snow Geese last occupied the Friedman and whose next, Annapurna, premieres with The New Group on Palm Sunday), Paul Rudnick, Nell Benjamin (who's working on part two of the trilogy she started with The Explorer's Club) and three of Shanley's Pulitzer Prize peers: Nilo Cruz, Lynn Nottage and Alfred Uhry.
Holed up in a seedy motel on the edge of the Mojave Desert, two former lovers unpack the deep secrets and dark desires of their tangled relationship, passionately tearing each other apart. Led by director Daniel Aukin (Back Back Back at MTC, 4,000 Miles), Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur at MTC, Born Yesterday) and Sam Rockwell (A Behanding in Spokane, The Way Way Back) bring an explosive intensity to Sam Shepard’s (Buried Child, True West) landmark myth of the new Wild West.