By Pat Launer
Grief and loss. How to handle a surviving parent and a floundering sibling. When is it time to stop caregiving and start on a life of your own?
These are timeless questions, but they take on added relevance in the Irish countryside in the mid’1950s in Ann Noble’s 1995 play, “And Neither Have I Wings to Fly,” a drama with delightful Irish elements: angst, storytelling (and some blarney), an old folk love-song (that gives the piece its name), and a wee bit of the supernatural.
Family is everything in the Donnelly household, which is still reeling from the death of their young mother/wife, Moira (Sara Jane Nash), who keeps making unnerving but significant appearances to her elder daughter Eveline (Kate Rose Reynolds).
Evvy, a responsible, no-nonsense book-lover, who’d always wanted to go to college and study literature, has taken charge of the household, because her father (Walter Ruskin) is hurting, and her flighty sister, Katie (Katee Drysdale), can’t quite cope with her mother’s death or her upcoming wedding to nice-guy/milquetoast Leo (Hayden Emmerson). Then, she gets seriously distracted by colorful, expansive and seductive actor Freddy Malone (Zackary Bonin).
Meanwhile, she has conflicts with her Dad, while her sister is surprised by a mutual attraction with Leo’s formerly wayward brother, Charlie (Paul Eddy).
So, there are issues of love and loyalty, as well as alcohol consumption concerns. And even a taste of female empowerment and independence (the spreading of those titular wings).
At Scripps Ranch Theatre, director Jacqueline Ritz deftly keeps all these thematic balls in motion, with impeccable casting and excellent pacing.
The set (Alyssa Kane) is nicely detailed and well lit (Chloe Oliana M Clark), and the costumes (Dawn Fuller-Korinek) enhance character delineation.
The performances are fine throughout, with especially strong and nuanced characterizations by Reynolds, Eddy, Bonin and Drysdale. The brogues are generally convincing, thanks to dialect coach David Huber.
Not everything turns out exactly as expected; unpredictability is a bonus in any play. The dialogue is credible, and despite a few dips into melodrama, this potent play and production are grounded in deep truths and hard realities that promote contemplation and introspection.
- “And Neither Have I Wings to Fly” runs through Dec. 8 at Scripps Ranch Theatre, in the Legler Benbough Theatre on the campus of Alliant University, 9783 Avenue of Nations
- Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
- Tickets ($15-$37) are available at 858-578-7728 or online at scrippsranchtheatre.org
- Running Time: 2 ½ hrs.
Pat Launer, a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, is a long-time San Diego arts writer and an Emmy Award-winning theater critic. An archive of her previews and reviews can be found at patlauner.com.
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