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THE MAI Andrews Theatre/Irish Classical Theatre Company
By
Jan 25, 2023, 10:46
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Shea.s Performing Arts Center

Through February 5
THE MAI Andrews Theatre/Irish Classical Theatre Company

At the heart of the luxury home in Marina Carr’s “The Mai,” is an illusory large window looking out across an Irish lake.
After seeing the show, scenic designer Collin Ranney should have added a laundry basket and a clothesline because of the degree of family dirty laundry scattered through Carr’s script.
That’s from the opium smoked by family matriarch Grandma Fraochlán (Pamela Rose Mangus) to the acute dysfunction of the parents of Millie (Christine Turturro), the show’s narrator.
The Mai (Kate LoConti Alcocer) and husband and wandering cellist Robert (Chris Avery) had a marriage which started off quickly and disintegrated over his years of wandering international musical performance.
Meanwhile The Mai is home lamenting what’s going on around her and putting up with her crazy relatives.
While the story is more than a little incoherent, director Josephine Hogan has several strong and entertaining performances in relatively minor roles, including Avery in this female dominated production, along with Mangus, Mary Moebius as Aunt Julie and Lisa Ludwig as Aunt Agnes.
As director Hogan explained in a post-show talkback, the 1979-1980 period of the show was when the old ways of Ireland were starting to break down, a period when The Mai would have been expected to stay home and be a mother and leave behind her graduate studies in music after marriage, because that was what Church and State required in those days.
She’s angry and resents what she gave up, as her husband wanders the world (apparently sending some cash home) and sometimes returns, carrying his cello.
Avery seems to know how to play the instrument.
If you listen carefully through the accents, you learn Millie has brothers although they never show up in anything other than a complaining line about the way Robert treats his family, from years on the road to him taking up openly with a local woman in their village, without shame.
Millie clearly wants to get out as fast as she can, influenced by the Irish changes which were in the wind, clear inter-generational damage to women in her family and, clearly, by what she hears and sees about what’s going on in the wider world around her, far from Ireland.
Irish Classical impresario LoConti Alcocer clearly chose this show because of the array of roles for women in a branch of the English-speaking theater world which is often more dominated by the boys.
Here, it’s a dysfunctional society and a dysfunctional marriage in an illuminating show.
“The Mai” is worth seeing.

A.W.

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