Feb. 13, 2013 - Issue #904: The Sugar Trade
Days of Wine and Roses
'I do love the Irish plays, I have to admit," begins Amy DeFelice. Passionality is the "fake term" that emerges later; DeFelice has a "passionality for Irish plays."
She's hardly alone in that. Given that we now have an entire festival, Serca, dedicated to works from the Emerald Isle, it certainly seems that scripts from that nation have their uniform charms—a captivating mix of brutality and humour, chiefly—that resonate far beyond its island coasts.
"A lot of Irish writers write the human condition very well," Cody Porter says, seated beside DeFelice and fellow cast member Elena Porter in the Varscona's green room. "I mean, It's not necessarily that fantastical things are happening, but you see people's journey and trajectory in a realistic and relatable way. It's not done to be fantastic. It's done to be realistic."
DeFelice has kept herself pretty heavily involved with the Serca Festival of Irish Theatre over its four-year existence, and it was a show she directed there, Mojo Mickeybo (which, also starring Cody, later saw raves at the 2012 Fringe), that's led her now to Days of Wine and Roses.
In it, playwright Owen McCafferty re-imagines JP Miller's teleplay of a couple facing an increasingly uphill battle with alcoholism. McCafferty shifts the original's characters from Americans to a pair from Belfast, tracing their arc in '60s London as a pair of outsiders eventually drawn to the bottle as much as to each other.
At its onset, Elena notes, her character Mona hasn't had a drop of drink in her life, and Cody's Donal is simply a casual drinker at best. The downward spiral isn't fast: they fall in love, strangers in a strange land, they drink; they try to adjust to London life, they throw lavish parties, they drink; they start to realize something is wrong with all of this drinking, and they drink.
Not that it's all bottom-of-the-bottle gloom. The trio notes that part of the show's strength comes down to balancing its more brutal aspects with a sense of levity.
"That's one of the things I like about this play: there's actually a sense of humour sometimes," DeFelice notes. "Despite everything."
"So maybe it's an appreciation that, even when things are really dark, there's still something lively about it," Elena adds. "I find that this playwright is not afraid to be ugly. His characters don't have to be liked. Who's the one you want to root for? I don't know. ... There's no concern about how the audience will feel about the character after this scene. This is the story. This is how they are. I love that, that it's not self-aware in that way, like, 'OK, wait, how are people going to think of me in this moment.' I don't care; it's not about that."
Until Sat, Feb 23 (7:30 pm; 2 pm Saturday matinee)
Directed by Amy DeFelice
Varscona Theatre, $19.75 – 23.75 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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