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This review by Simon Saltzman was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on October 28, 1998. All rights reserved.

Review: `A Night in November'

Kenneth Norman McCallister, a 34-year-old Belfast Protestant, checks for explosive devices in his car. It's a way of life for this clerk who works in a government welfare office. But so is his hatred for the Catholic Irish. In keeping with his deeply ingrained feelings, McAllister does not hide his disdain for needy Roman Catholics who come to his office for help. "I've spent 15 years never looking into the eyes of the people," says the callous civil servant, who also gloats to Gerry, his Catholic supervisor and golfing buddy, of his newly attained membership in an "exclusive" (no-Catholics) golf club.

While attending a local soccer match between the north and the south in the company of his 65-year-old, chain-smoking father-in-law, McAllister sees his bigotry reaching catastrophic proportions. This game will determine which team will play in the 1994 World Cup competition to be held in New York, even as it becomes the catalyst that will force McAllister to rediscover himself.

"How could I look back on my life in one night," says McAllister, recalling the horror of the match during which he prompts a rowdy crowd to vent their hatred of the Republic of Ireland, as well voice their bigotry toward the team's black players.

In Marie Jones' scalding, funny, and compassionate play "A Night In November," McAllister affects a dramatic change of heart and habit from being an admittedly "soulless little man, an asshole for 34 years." In the process of becoming a new "Irish Man," McAllister takes a big risk: venturing into the Catholic ghetto to visit the home of his friend Gerry. There are plenty of laughs as McCallister relates the differences between his life as one of "the perfect Protestants," and the seemingly disorganized life style of his friend Gerry and his wife who has left him a note, "I've taken the kids to the pictures. Make your own dinner."

The most amazing aspect of this trenchant and exciting play is that one extraordinary actor -- Dan Gordon -- plays McAllister and all the other roles. These include his complaisant wife Deborah, their small children, their shallow unsympathetic circle of friends, a trio of racy women, humorous airline personnel, and some feisty New York cops.

We don't get more from designer Robert Ballagh's setting than the cleverness of tri-color three-step bleachers. But they perfectly serve the play's needs and the needs of Gordon's sturdy frame has he changes from a sport coat, tie, and slacks to a riotously funny soccer player's outfit. Under Pam Brighton's direction, Gordon breathes a revitalizing freshness into the too often foul and fossilized life of McAllister's homeland.

Even as he is accused by his friends of "being brainwashed by the Catholics," the anguished and impetuous McAllister takes the offense. Appalled by his behavior, he sells his golf clubs and clearly begins his transformation in preparation for his temporary escape to New York. There is something quite thrilling about the way McAllister turns the rousing chant he learns at the airport from other fans, "Ole Ole Ole, we're on our way to the U.S.A.," into a transporting mantra. Hurrah to the triumvirate of Jones, Gordon, and Brighton who have succeeded in creating another path to peace: one that goes beyond the limits of politics, religion, and society. HHH

-- Simon Saltzman

A Night In November, Douglas Fairbanks Theater, 432 West 42, 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200. $40 & $45. To December 6.

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On Broadway

The key: HHHH Don't miss; HHH You won't feel cheated; HH Maybe you should have stayed home; H Don't blame us.

Art HH Royale, 242 West 45. Tony winner for best play.

Beauty and the Beast HHH Palace, Broadway at 47. Ticketmaster.

Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk HHHH, Ambassador, 219 West 49.

Cabaret HHH Roundabout's Kit Kat Klub, 124 West 43. Tony's best.

Cats HHH Winter Garden, 50 & Broadway.

Chicago HHHH Shubert, 225 West 44.

Footloose, Richard Rodgers, 226 West 46. Ticketmaster. Previews.

Getting and Spending, Helen Hayes, 44 and Broadway.

Jekyll & Hyde HH Plymouth, 236 West 45.

Les Miserables HHH Imperial, 249 West 45.

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Mandy Patinkin's Mamaloshen HHHH Belasco, 111 West 44. To November 7.

Miss Saigon HHHH Broadway, 53 and Broadway.

On the Town, Gershwin, 222 West 51. Ticketmaster. Previews.

Ragtime HHHH Ford Center, 42 between 7 and 8 Avenue. Ticketmaster. Winner of four Tonys.

Rent HHHH Nederlander, 208 West 41. Ticketmaster.

Sandra Bernhard: I'm Still Here... Dammit! Booth, 222 West 45. Previews.

Side Man HHH Golden, 252 West 45.

Smokey Joe's Cafe HH Virginia, 245 West 52.

Swan Lake HHH Neil Simon, 250 West 52. Ticketmaster. Matthew Bourne's gender bender.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane HH Walter Kerr, 219 West 48.

The Lion King HHHH New Amsterdam, Broadway & 42. 212-307-4747.

The Phantom of the Opera HHH Majestic, 247 West 44.

The Scarlet Pimpernel H Minskoff, 200 West 45. Ticketmaster.

The Sound of Music HH Martin Beck, 302 West 45.

Titanic HHHH Lunt-Fontanne, 205 West 46. Ticketmaster.

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All Under Heaven, Century, 111 East 15. Valerie Harper as Pearl Buck. Begins November 3.

Blue Man Group HHHH Astor Place, 434 Lafayette, 212-254-4370.

Chaim's Love Song, Greenwald, 307 West 26.

Collected Stories HHH Lucille Lortel, 121 Christopher. Uta Hagen.

Communicating Doors HH Variety Arts, 110 Third. By Alan Ayckbourn.

Corpus Christi, Manhattan Theater Club, 131 West 55, 212-581-1212. Terrence McNally's latest.

De La Guarda HH Daryl Roth, 20 Union Square East. From Argentina.

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Duet!, Actors' Playhouse, 100 Seventh Avenue.

Forbidden Broadway Cleans Up! Stardust, Broadway & 51.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch HHH Jane Street, 113 Jane.

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change HH, Westside, 407 West 43.

Impossible Marriage, Roundabout, 1530 Broadway at 45. Holly Hunter in Beth Henley's play.

Killer Joe, Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam. Scott Glenn and Amanda Plummer.

Kuni-Leml, Playhouse 91, 316 West 91, 212-831-2000.

Late Nite Catechism, St. Luke's Church, 308 West 46, 800-432-7250.

Perfect Crime, Duffy, 1553 Broadway.

Pericles, Public, 425 Lafayette. Shakespeare.

Power Plays, Promenade, Broadway & 76.

R & J HHH Houseman Studio, 450 West 42, 212-354-2220. A Romeo & Juliet story.

Retribution, Lamb's Theater, 130 West 44.

Sakina's Restaurant, American Place, 111 West 46.

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The Fantasticks, 181 Sullivan Street Playhouse. Ticketmaster.

The Knee Desires the Dirt, Theater Four, 424 West 55.

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The Primary English Class, Minetta Lane Theater. Ticketmaster. Previews.

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The Shaughraun, Irish Repertory, 132 West 22, 212-727-2737.

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-- Simon Saltzman

Ticket Numbers

Unless otherwise noted, all Broadway reservations can be made through Tele-Charge at 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200. For Ticketmaster listings call 800-755-4000 or 212-307-4100.

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