“Minding Frankie” celebrates an ordinary man as quietly heroic … a rich, warm tale.

Review by Willy Rogue Donaldson
Published Monday, November 13, 2017

Here we are in modern Ireland, where we see Noel Lynch is drinking his way to oblivion in yet another pub. He hasn’t been thrown out of this one like he has at many others- Whoops! He was just thrown out again! Into a sizeable puddle!

Later we see him at home when he gets a strange phone call from someone he barely knows. Uh oh, no man is an island, and no man wants to get this phone call.

We watch events unfold over two acts with wonder and chuckles. When my companion Miss Pickwicker wondered why genetics wasn’t brought onto the scene, I pointed out the first act takes place over twenty years ago. The ending comes with a huge smile, followed by much applause.

The two characters are played by two of Buffalo’s best actors in a very smooth production Directed by Chris Kelly. It is a very physical play with continuous action, with few breaks between many short scenes. This means the actors have to establish the difference between scenes very quickly and have no time to catch their breath. Even tho they are seldom running, it is still a strenuous undertaking. And Chris Kelly has made it seem seamless, with everything running smoothly the first weekend.   And withal the scenes are oriented in different directions for theater in the round- a fine direction of movement.

The set consists of blown up children’s blocks, which are moved adroitly between scenes, and the few props are pulled out from within them. A very attractive Set Designed by Paul Bostaph. Some missing elements are suggested by the actors’ movements.

Christian Brandjes tucks another masterful portrayal under his belt with his character Noel Lynch. He takes him from a drunkard to a solid warm character in the play, proving himself again and again on the slippery slope.

Kristen Tripp Kelly takes the stage as Moira Tierney, a woman who has a very responsible position as an adoption agency official. She is very wary of this unusual adoption, and thinks at every junction that she has to jump in before Lynch fails to be up to the job. Her important doubt makes her character seem stiff and rather harsh, we learn later what her personal limitations and outlook are.

In the conflicts between these two characters we sense a possible romance to come, they are getting to know each other very well. Does anything come of this? I’ll not give it away, but towards the end, KT Kelly gets a chance to show Moira more attractively.

Did I mention the third and fourth characters onstage? The fourth was played by slight of hand, an onstage unvoiced character. And the third was an important character, Stella, present in full body and voice. The only problem was there was no third actor. So that means KT Kelly played Stella Dickson in the hospital.   Wait a minute, she also played Moira visiting Stella in the hospital. Wha? Dummy? Mirrors? Twins? Watch that scene carefully!!

The play is enhanced by its usage of Irish [Irish English], with characteristic words and phrases which enrich our experience. And it celebrates an ordinary man as interesting and quietly heroic. Here is a most worthy definition of the American slang phrase “man up”.

Go and enjoy a rich warm tale at The Irish Classical Theatre!