Celtic conflicts

Ann Noble’s play about an Irish family decompensating after the mother’s death had its premiere in Chicago nearly 30 years ago, and it’s showing its age. There are plots and subplots and Irish-lit tropes like a storytelling session apropos of nothing, but none of these achieves warp, or even tarantella, speed. As the dutiful daughter Evie, self-martyred with an undercurrent of rage at her stay-at-home fate, Hayley Rice carries the show, and the moment when she tells her mother’s ghost (not a spoiler) that “What you could have done to make me happy is to die!” is absolutely scalding. Likewise, every entrance by Andrew Behling as Evie’s love interest is electric, not only from their chemistry but from his heartfelt portrait of a playboy belatedly trying to become a man.

And Neither Have I Wings to FlyThrough 2/26: Wed 8 PM, Thu 3 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM; open captions Sat 2/11 4 PM and Fri 2/17 8 PM; First Folio Theatre, Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 31st St., Oak Brook, 630-986-8067, firstfolio.org, $49-$59 (seniors 65+ $44-$54, full-time students 22 and under $20)

But these actors have an unfair advantage, as their characters have the heft of real people. The rest of the cast struggles with the cardboard cut-outs they’ve been assigned: The Spoiled Daughter, The Boring Fiance, The Charming Rover, The Stern But Largely Absent Father. Nor has the device of the ghost worn well, or perhaps director Heather Chrisler wasn’t prepared to have Adrianne Cury play it for the comic effect that would have leavened the rest of the evening.  Angela Weber Miller’s set is a wonder of 1950s middle-class respectability and Lindsay Jones’s sound design evokes Ireland better than any number of stories. And, having now seen Michael Dias deliver Hamlet’s “rogue and peasant slave” speech, I look forward to his someday doing the whole thing. 

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