Emma Slipp, left, stars as Rosemary Muldoon and Garett Ross as Anthony Reilly in a scene from the Chemainus Theatre production of Outside Mullingar. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Irish dark humour alive and well in Outside Mullingar

The title may be relatively unknown but Chemainus Theatre patrons are in for a treat

Outside Mullingar isn’t a title that jumps out to theatre-goers like Grease or Little Women or Sound Of Music or countless other more familiar productions.

But one of the four actors in Chemainus Theatre’s performance of Outside Mullingar that opens Friday, Oct. 19 and runs until Nov. 3 thinks that can actually work to advantage because most people aren’t going into this show with any pre-conceived notions of what they’re going to see.

“It can be a positive,” said Emma Slipp, who portrays Rosemary Muldoon. “Your audience doesn’t know the script. There’s surprises which are fun.

“For me, as an audience member, I like knowing nothing about it.”

Slipp had heard about Outside Mullingar from other productions throughout Canada, including one last year at Pacific Theatre in Vancouver.

“I wasn’t able to see it,” she said. “I knew Mark (DuMez, Chemainus Theatre’s artistic director) was auditioning for it and I reached out to him.”

Being from Nova Scotia, Slipp had another reason she wanted to be in the performance due to the strong Irish influence in her home province. There was a considerable adjustment to be made in the dialogue, however, and Erin Ormond worked wonders in that department.

“It’s definitely a big factor in the work we’ve been doing to get it right,” noted Slipp. “It’s been interesting doing the dialect work and trying to get my own east coast dialect out of the way.”

Slipp admits concentrating so heavily on getting it right has slipped into her daily conversations, even in the short time since rehearsals got under way.

“I have an Irish accent all the time,” she laughed.

Slipp has appeared in previous Chemainus Theatre productions of Hilda’s Yard and Singing In The Rain and last year’s Silent Sky – another relatively unknown story that was a huge hit.

Slipp is joined in Outside Mullingar by Brian Hinson as Tony Reilly, Garett Ross as Anthony Reilly (not to be confused with Tony) and Kathryn Kerbes as Aoife Muldoon. Regular theatre patrons will immediately recognize Kerbes’ name from the three parts she just played in Glorious! that concluded Oct. 6.

Outside Mullingar is described by Slipp as a very simple well-crafted story, a love story but not of the schmaltzy variety.

“It’s very funny,” she added. “The Irish dark humour is alive and well in this play. It’s got the balance of the lightness and the silliness and the depth of emotion, the weight.”

The humour is one of the things that captivated DuMez about Outside Mullingar when Ormond brought it home to read and Chemainus Theatre Foundation member Maria Ridewood, who’d seen it on Broadway, suggested he check it out.

“The play surprised me,” conceded DuMez. “I laughed out loud at the characters and the situations, the bittersweet longings, and the pinpoint turns the piece walked.”

DuMez knew he had to bring this play to Chemainus.

In simplest terms, Outside Mullingar is a tale of two people who have lived next to each other their entire lives. She has been in love with him for years and he has been oblivious. The story is magnified by family rivalries, land disputes, laugh-out-loud jokes and, in fine Irish tradition, heartrending poetry.

“We’re all very excited to get into the theatre and incorporate all the elements – the lights and the costumes and the music,” enthused Slipp.

There’s a featured artist meet and greet with Will Millar and Deborah Czernecky as part of the show’s debut Oct. 19 from 5-6 p.m. Millar has done a special painting geared toward the production.

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