Corrections or additions?
This article by Simon Saltzman was prepared for the March 6, 2002
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
In New York: `The Matchmaker’
If you’re looking about for some warm-hearted Irish
wit and whimsy, you might think about spending a few convivial hours
at the Irish Repertory Theater where "The Matchmaker" has
set up shop. No, this is not the familiar Thornton Wilder comedy (and
source of the popular musical "Hello Dolly"), but rather a
ripe and ribald dramatization by Phyllis Ryan of a 1977 epistolary
novel by John B. Keane, "Letters of a Matchmaker."
A surprisingly saucy affair it is considering that the action mainly
takes the form of a reading of letters exchanged between a middle-aged
gentleman matchmaker, Dicky Mick Dicky (Des Keogh), and his sister
Marge in America, and his numerous clients, both satisfied and
fulfilled and unfulfilled.
The sister and the various local women in search of marriage and all
that such a contract offers are played by Anna Manahan, who won a
Tony award for playing the wretched mother in "The Beauty Queen
of Leenane." With Keogh tackling the title role, as well as the
male clients, these two fine actors are amusing to watch as they
with the romantic entreaties of the dysfunctional, the unhappy, the
lusty, and the lame.
While the text is so rich in local vernacular that it requires an
entire glossary page in the program to prepare you, you wouldn’t want
to be left out of the best belly laughs. After all, you wouldn’t want
to miss the meaning of such expressions as "tack of the dick"
— hadn’t enough penis for a decent wrinkle; "coaxiorum"
— old Irish love potion; "cawbogues" — a man with
no nuts; "poitcheen" — illegal whiskey; "latchiko"
— a totally lazy or useless person, and more.
The letters portray an Ireland of the 1950s and ’60s
when letters, not E-mails, were the most popular means of
Although the letters serve as an important conveyor of gossip,
inquiries, and business-like investigations, there is the added fun
of seeing how a matchmaker attempts to protect his clients. The unwary
victims, the sexual predators, the innocent and the worldly, the eager
and the cautious, are revealed as a unique and occasionally
group of characters, each evoked in the delightfully literate style
of author Keane (best known in the United States for the movie of
his play "The Field").
To the actors’ credit, some 20 or so characters, including a woman
with a wooden leg, a five-foot-tall jockey, a bi-sexual Brit, a lusty
widow, a 300-pound Turk, among others equally well-defined — are
all colorfully evoked. There is an earthy flavor to the play that
weaves gently around the affable Mr. Dicky, whose own happy marriage
is suddenly clouded by the illness of his wife, and the threats of
a local priest who believes that matchmaking is the work of the devil.
Tall and wiry, with a flair for accents and affectations, Keogh
to be having a keen a time, as does Manahan, who transforms herself
charmingly from one savory soul in search of a mate to the next.
the play has its tender and sad moments, it is mostly comical in its
depiction of a life-affirming people. Under Michael Scott’s sensitive
direction, the play and its players conjoin to offer glimpses and
glimmers of love and longing in what appears to be a rather bleak
environment. Three stars. You won’t feel cheated.
— Simon Saltzman
Street, New York. For tickets call 212-727-2737. $40. To March 31.
Asbury Park, has auditions for "Waiting," a new play by Midge
Guerrera, on Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10, beginning at 2 p.m.
Cast for the funny, heartwarming play calls for three men and three
women, ages 18 to 80. Performances begin in April in Asbury Park,
at Rutgers, and possibly at the New York Fringe Festival in August.
For information call director George Hansel at 732-897-1835.
of "Cinderella" on Sunday, March 10, at 2 p.m., and Monday,
March 11, at 7:30 p.m. Casting ages 16 and up for this comedy of
and Hyde" on Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and
April 7, from noon to 4 p.m., at Kelsey Theater, Mercer County
Prepare one musical theater song and bring sheet music or recorded
accompaniment. Performances are August at Washington Crossing Park
Open Air Theater. To schedule, call 609-737-7529.
Ransom, invites singers to auditions through the month of March. The
chorus rehearses once a week in Pennington. To schedule an audition,
Call for Entries
through third grade to write and illustrate original stories for the
regional competition of Reading Rainbow Eighth Annual Young Writer
and Illustrators Contest. Deadline is March 15. Rules are on website:
www.njn.net or call 609-777-3991.
accepting entries for its 2002 juried show that will take place May
12 to June 2 in the historic mill in New Hope. Jurors are Sandra
Jeff Hurwitz, and Laurence Miller. Entries may be hand delivered on
Friday, March 15, from 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, March 16, from 10
a.m. to 2 p.m. Entry fee is $25 for up to four photographs. For
phone 215-396-7040; fax 215-396-9899, or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
playwrights to submit works for consideration for public reading on
the Peddie campus in the 2002-’03 season. Deadline is April 1. Send
to: Robert Rund, Dramatists Workshop, Peddie School, Box A, South
Main Street, Hightstown 08520. Information 609-490-7550.
innovative art in all media and located in the Stockham Arts Building,
10 Pennsylvania Avenue, Morrisville, is seeking artists for June
2002, at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, June 21 to 23.
Work 1/2 day or more and receive free admission for the entire weekend
($70 pass). Call Fran DePalma-Iozzi, 973-226-6043.
in both patient and non-patient contact areas. Junior Volunteers for
the summer program for teens over 14 years old are also needed. Call
Lynne Kluin at 609-394-6690.
with mailings, at health fair, and in the office. Call 609-252-2005.
school students involved in community organizations who show financial
need. Call 609-585-6200.
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