4 Stars (out of 4) – “A golden start” to ICTC’s 18-19 season – Anthony Chase, Buffalo News

There is a golden girl at the heart of the Irish Classical Theatre production of Clifford Odets 1937 classic, “Golden Boy,” and her name is Cassie Cameron.  Cameron gives a five-star performance in this four-star production.

It was inevitable that Irish Classical Theatre eventually arrive at the work of Odets.  The playwright modeled his plays on the work of Sean O’Casey, and is seminal in the development of a style of realistic American acting, which is also a hallmark of the Irish Classical Theatre.  The play is a perfect choice to open its 2018-2019 season.

This production is a seamless melding of Odets’ remarkable script with a cast that … inhabits the play’s large array of characters with sincerity, believability, and passion.

Christian Brandjes is focused and convincing … Rolando Martin Gomez gives a performance aching in its sincerity and authenticity …

… as golden boy Joe Bonaparte, Anthony Alcocer … here gives a career making turn.  He endows the fatally conflicted character with palpable humanity and complexity, in a performance that is grounded and contained … He is marvelous.

Read Anthony Chase’s full 4-Star review.in The Buffalo News.


“One of ICTC’s very best,” 3-1/2 Stars for “Lady Windermere’s Fan” – The Buffalo News

Wit wins out in ICTC’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan” – Review by Colin Dabkowski, Published 7:00 a.m. June 6, 2018

The Irish Classical Theatre Company has a knack for choosing summertime comedies with just the right amount of froth.

Its latest, whipped up like some perfect theatrical cappuccino by director Josephine Hogan and her talented cast, is Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windemere’s Fan.” It hits just the right Wildean balance between cutting snark and probing insight into human fear and frailty …

As plots go, this one makes itself compelling by being patently unbelievable.

It involves the attempted return to London society of a mysterious woman with a reputation for bad behavior, played with extra relish on the side by Kate LoConti … Mrs. Erlynne (is) … the subject of everyone’s fascination … Her most ardent suitor Lord Augustus (Christian Brandjes, in fine comic form) (who) follows her around like a puppy …

LoConti, as expected, is marvelous in the role. She fully owns her character’s sense of entitlement …  LoConti’s scenes with the equally gifted (Arianne) Davidow (as Lady Windermere) serve as the genuine emotional ground from which all the play’s snarky comments and sendups grow.

… no one in the cast is better at delivering comic takedowns than Chris Kelley’s Cecil Graham … Kelley plays him with savage delight, a self-satisfied manner and an extraordinary accent that has probably never existed in the wild.

Not far behind him in the snark department is Colleen Gaughan as the Duchess of Berwick, into which Wilde has packed his worst opinions about the hypocritical London aristocracy.

Even the butler (David Lundy) gets in on it, treating certain guests with a raised eyebrow and withering disdain …

All of this unfolds … on Paul Bostaph’s marvelous set … Brian Cavanagh’s finely tuned lighting adds a glimmering sheen to the whole affair … Lise Harty’s costumes, from elegant ball gowns to stuffy tuxedos, assist in the suspension of our disbelief.

… the production is one of the Irish Classical’s very best.

Read full review @ http://buffalonews.com/2018/06/06/wit-wins-out-in-ictcs-lady-windemeres-fan/

Theater Review

3.5 stars (out of four)

“Lady Windemere’s Fan” runs through June 24 in the Andrews Theatre, 625 Main St. Tickets are $20 to $45. Call 853-4282 or visit irishclassical.com.






“dream team cast” in “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” Cherie Messore, buffalotheatreguide.com

Posted June 4, 2018

Ah, the things we do for love. We keep secrets. Maybe tell a fib or two. And perhaps we try to protect the object of our affection from hurting over something that can’t be undone.

Love, honor, and the subtleties of deception combine to form the delectable story of Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” sumptuously staged by the Irish Classical Theatre Company.

Director Josephine Hogan had the dream team cast for this one.

The story begins as we meet Lady Windermere, elegantly played by Arianne Davidow. . She has two visitors in the afternoon of her “coming of age” birthday. First is Lord Darlington who Lady Windermere playfully chides for lavishing too much attention on her. “Compliments,” sighs Lord Darlington, “is the only thing we can pay,” he laments.  Still he admires so much about her, she is a good woman, in a world where there are so many bad ones. Lady Windermere, true to her Puritan values, wants nothing to do with such talk, or his veiled attempts at seduction. “I will have no one in my house about whom there is any scandal,” she declares. So when her next guest arrives – The Duchess of Berwick with her daughter Lady Agatha – Lady W can barely tolerate the thought that her dear husband is involved with a woman with a questionable past. And he’s giving her money! Whatever for?

She confronts her husband, who implores her to invite the mysterious Mrs. Erlynne to the evening’s birthday party. Lady W. will have none of it, so Lord W. invites this wayward guest himself. There’s a gasp when Mrs. Erlynne sweeps into the room, all clad in the brightest of red gowns, with the tallest hair ornament of them all, against a sea of more modestly-hued frocks.  She beguiles the men. And shocks the women.

What unfolds is the classic parlor comedy with a morality theme, sparked by plenty of discussion about right and wrong, marriage and human nature, good and bad. If you’re not charming, you’re tedious, and if you’re too good, you’re taken too seriously. The witty banter, the raised eyebrows, the shocking revelations are Wilde at his finest. So is the fluttering of Lady Windermere’s fan, with its pure white feathers, sparkling jewels, inscription just for the Lady. The fan – a gift, a metaphor, a symbol – has the most provocative silent role of all.

Director Josephine Hogan had the dream team cast for this one. Davidow, in demure pink and white with flowers in her hair, is the perfect young bride to Matt Witten’s stalwart but loving Lord Windermere. Ben Michael Moran is a charmer as the smitten Lord Darlington, and delivers the classic line – “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” with a sweet longing for the love he can’t share with Lady W. Kate LoConti is outstanding as the mysterious Mrs. Erlynne. She’s brazen, confident, and determined…and sentimental, caring, and devoted to what’s acceptable to the high-brow British uppercrust. LoConti’s expressions, her gestures, are slight, and convey every emotion and meaning. David Lundy is a trip as Parker the butler.  His entr’acte stage-lights-at-half ballet sequence is Artie-worthy. Christian Brandjes as the bumbling Lord Augustus Lorton and Chris Kelly as the sardonic Cecil Graham are great foils. Jon May’s Mr. Dumby delivers the prophetic punch at the party with “In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” Wilde’s wisest words.

Running Time: 2 Hours, with a 10-minute intermission.



“‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ … delicious … excellent cast” – Ann Marie Cusella, buffalovibe.com

June 2, 2018

If you are in the market for a delightful evening of Wildean wit and wisdom, you will do no better than seeing Irish Classical Theatre Company’s current production of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan. This subversive drawing room comedy, first performed in 1892, is timeless in its skewering of rigid moral codes and adherence to uncompromising societal rules that demand conformity, with banishment and ruin as punishment for those who dare to defy them. Irish Classical Theatre Company is always in top form in its productions of Wilde plays, and this one is no exception.

The young, innocent, beautiful Lady Windermere (Arianne Davidow) has received a fan for her birthday from her older husband (Matt Witten), who unfortunately refers to her as “child” several times. She lives by a very strict moral code, declaring herself unforgiving of human frailty, i.e., affairs outside of marriage. Nonetheless, she is pursued by the dashing Lord Darlington (Ben Michael Moran), who cannot help but love her, as rich idle young men have earnestly proclaimed throughout the ages. She is told by the Duchess of Berwick (Colleen Gaughan) that Lord Windermere has been seen many times in the company of an unknown-to-society woman, Mrs. Erlynne (Kate LoConti), and scandal must ensue unless Lady W. spirits Lord W. away for a time. Thus begins the dark night of the soul for the lovely Lady W. and an opportunity for Mr. Wilde to regale us with his seditious wit.

Kate LoConti steals the show as Mrs. Erlynne, although she is given a run for her money in smaller roles by Christian Brandjes as the dim-witted Lord Augustus Lorton with jowls that speak for themselves, and Chris Kelly as the mischievous Mr. Cecil Graham, who delivers some of Mr. Wilde’s juicier lines with a farcical, public school boy persona. Then there’s the dancing David Lundy as the butler, Parker, and Colleen Gaughan as the gossipy, witless Duchess of Berwick…

But, back to Ms. LoConti. Her line delivery is impeccable, and her emotions are palpable, yet understated, as she feels an unexpected deep love and must adjust her plans. She carries herself with grace throughout, and is stunning in her entrance, flaunting Victorian norms in a sparkling red dress that is just this side of being too revealing as she flirts her way around the room, mocking society while at the same time seducing almost every man present. Beautiful!

Ms. Davidow and Mr. Witten do well in their roles as the humorless couple. He is harried and worried throughout, running around trying to put out fires. She is so rigid and inflexible she is almost unappealing, belying her lovely demeanor, seeming like she might shatter into pieces at any moment, and then becoming more three-dimensional as her world changes.

The excellent cast is rounded out by Jon May, Emily Collins, Jaimee Harmon, Marilyn Mendelson, and Jamie O’Neill.

Directed by Josephine Hogan, at just under two hours, the production is lively without feeling rushed, and very well cast. She uses the theater in the round expertly, moving her actors around organically, rather than in a stilted someone-must-be-facing-the-audience-on-that-side mode, which happens all too often in lesser hands. The beautiful Victorian costumes are by Lise Harty, Set Design by Paul Bostaph, Lighting by Brian Cavanagh, Sound by Tom Makar, Hair and Make-up by Susan Drozd. All are experts, and their work here a fine example of their many talents.

The themes of rigid definitions of good and bad and polite society’s demands that all conform to its rules leave a sour taste, as the only way for the Windermeres to survive as a couple is to keep their secrets hidden, not just from society, but also from each other. Lady Windermere’s Fan has an underlying seriousness, but do not let that keep you from enjoying every delicious minute of it.


“ICTC lavishes considerable talents on ‘The Awful Truth'” – Peter Hall, Buffalo Rising

THE BASICS: THE AWFUL TRUTH, a 1922 comedy by Arthur Richman presented by the Irish Classical Theatre Company, directed by Fortunato Pezzimenti, starring Eric Rawski, Zak Ward, Diane Curley, Ellen Horst, Maura Nolan, Adriano Gatto, Marisa Caruso, and Chris Kelly runs through Mother’s Day, Sunday May 13, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 3 and 7:30, Sundays at 2 at the Andrews Theatre, 625 Main Street. Full service bar, some snacks. (853-ICTC). www.irishclassicaltheatre.com Runtime: two hours with one intermission.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH: Despite being very well compensated following her divorce, Lucy Warriner has lavish tastes and habits, and, now broke, has set her cap on multi-millionaire oil man Daniel Leeson. In her way is the oil man’s aunt who has heard a nasty rumor as to the grounds of that divorce. Now Lucy must convince all interested parties of her innocence.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: At the Irish Classical Theatre, it’s either a real downer about powerless down and outers at the mercy of life, the system, and each other (MINDING FRANKIE and THE NIGHT ALIVE) or else it’s a “drawing room comedy” where rich people just treat each other badly. Of course, with the bright patina of the well off, all is forgiven. Pecunia non olet (“money does not stink”) as the saying goes. THE AWFUL TRUTH, a 1922 play by the relatively unknown Arthur Richman, is in the same vein as two other early 20th century plays this 2017-2018 season –  DESIGN FOR LIVING by Noel Coward and THE CONSTANT WIFE by W. Somerset Maugham. All three plays take place during The Jazz Age and the protagonist in each is a liberated women – sexually liberated, definitely, and in at least two of the plays, somewhat financially liberated as well.

The ICTC has billed 2017-2018 as a “season of comedy” but I would suggest that it’s more a season of plays in which the action is always initiated by a woman. In every one of the six plays at the ICTC, a woman has a problem; she goes about solving it; and the chips fall upon the just and the unjust.

In every one of the six plays at the ICTC, a woman has a problem; she goes about solving it; and the chips fall upon the just and the unjust.

The players in this first-rate production are, well, first rate, and you can attend with the assurance that everyone on stage will delight you in the way that we’ve come to expect from the ICTC when they’re in their “drawing room comedy” element. Diane Curley is beyond charming as Lucy Warriner, the divorcee with her eyes on the money of Daniel Leeson, the rugged Oklahoma oil man a bit out of his element in Manhattan, played effectively by Eric Rawski. And the rest of the cast fully delivers, including Ellen Horst as Daniel’s dour Aunt, Adriano Gatto as the suave former husband, Marisa Caruso as the perpetually confused maid, Celeste, and Chris Kelly as the ne’er do well, Rufus Kempster. But I would like to single out two minor roles which were acted with such insouciance by a pair both in their first appearance on the ICTC stage.  The performances by Zak Ward as the idle rich and none-too-bright character Eustace Trent who is married to the snappy “with it” Josephine Trent, played with high energy by Maura Nolan, stayed with me long after the curtain. (Note: Bring them back! We want more!)

The production elements were also flawless, starting with direction by Fortunato Pezzimenti, costumes by Bethany Kasperek (Vivian DelBello, Wardrobe Mistress), Hair and Make-up designed by Susan Drozd and a very convincing set by David Dwyer which included a baby grand piano (or maybe that should come under props, also very clever, by Emma English) and Sound Design by Tom Makar.

Is this a timeless classic, tinged with genius, by one of the great writers of all time? No. Actually, this play is like dinner theater. Really, really well-done dinner theatre, but Coward or Maugham or Wilde it ain’t. On the other hand, it’s fun and only two hours long, and don’t you deserve a laugh? Of course you do.

“nostalgia & new found glee” in discovery of script for “The Awful Truth,” Michael Rabice, BWW

April 24, 2018

Whatever your artistic quest may be, from unearthing gem stones or archeological ruins to discovering a lost manuscript of music, there is always an element of nostalgia and new found glee when the item arises. Stage director Fortunato Pezzimenti discovered Arthur Richman’s unpublished 1922 script THE AWFUL TRUTH in the New York Public Library for The Performing Arts in 2011. Only briefly produced on Broadway in 1935, the story has been told on 3 occasions on the silver screen.

While truly not a legitimate genre of theatre, the term “screwball comedy” took Hollywood by storm in the 1930’s with such hits as “Bringing Up Baby,” “His Girl Friday,” and “It Happened One Night,” to name but a few. Buffalo’s Irish Classical Theatre Company is serving up a charming trifle in its quick witted production of THE AWFUL TRUTH. Whiffs of perfume, a melancholy song played on the parlor piano and a drop dead gown are all it takes to make a man swoon and fall in love, while literally becoming weak in the knees and cross eyed. Similar drawing room comedies attributed to likes of Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde often are equally as frothy in their premises, but sight gags and melodrama push the likes of those plays into the screwball category.

Mr. Pezzimenti obviously loves this material and from curtain up sets the perfect tone.

Reminiscent of those early Hollywood opening credits, the French maid Celeste (Marisa Caruso) enters carrying elegant name cards for each character, as they strut center stage to introduce themselves with a winning grin, grimace, or skip. Picture moving figures inset in a cameo on the silver screen with swells of orchestral music and you get the clever idea.

A young divorcee, Lucy Warriner, is set to marry Texas oil magnate Daniel Leeson. But whether his overbearing Aunt will approve of the bride’s indiscretions forms the backbone of the story.

This reviewer is near always impressed by ICTC’s casting and this production is no exception. Diane Curley is a breath of fresh air as elegant and conniving Lucy. Her plan to convince her Aunt-to-be that she is as innocent as can be involves convincing her ex husband, Norman Satterly, to essentially testify on her behalf. But as the two meet again, their old love re-ignites, however problematic that may be.

Adriano Gatto is both charming and goofy as Norman, ala the film’s interpreter Cary Grant.  Gatto is dashing and up to the challenge of exasperation mixed with subtle physical comedy. Ms. Curley is perfectly coquettish when needed, but at all times in control of her mastermind plan.

Ellen Horst is genius as the dowager Mrs. Leeson. Her mere presence puts everyone on edge, and her disdain for all things improper makes her an early 20th Century Lady Bracknell. Ms. Horst lets roulades of contempt roll of her tongue with ease and charmed the audience with her haughtiness. Eric Rawski was aptly gawky and uncomfortable as the rich Texan who who is a fish out of water among the Country Club socialite crowd. His comfort with physical comedy is aided by his tall stature.

The secondary cast was all equally strong, from Lucy’s friends, Eustace and Josephine Trent, played with hilarity by Zak Ward and Maura Nolan. Chris Kelly has a memorable cameo as Rufus Kempster, Lucy’s supposed former lover. Kelly commands the stage with an over the top British accent that charms from the outset.

The lovely costumes by Bethany Kasperek were finely tailored and complemented by Set Designer David Dwyer’s posh settings. Mr. Pezzimenti happily moves the story along at a good clip, since the wispy thin plot could easily become tedious. Thankfully the cast acts with complete conviction and finds the right balance of tongue in cheek, wink at the audience naughtiness to keep everyone engaged. There are reasons these comedies have fallen out of favor and not been revived much, if ever, in this case. But the programming of a silly screwball comedy does seem to fit well into ICTC’s season of comedies.



“marvelously acted, lovingly directed, and long overdue on a Buffalo stage – Ted Hadley, TBN

ICTC’s talent for screwball comedies works again in “The Awful Truth”
by Ted Hadley, The Buffalo News
April 24,2018

“The Awful Truth,” a comedy written for the stage nearly a century ago by Arthur Richman … is the kind of play that Irish Classical Theatre Company does best. Costumed to the nines, classy set pieces, witty repartee, the sexes doing battle, foolish people, fibs, machinations, love eventually conquering all. ICTC has mastered the formula …

The ingredients are there: Lucy Warriner … she’s also broke and feeling the pinch – is entertaining a rich oil man from Oklahoma … Lucy’s ex-husband, Norman, arrives to reluctantly tout his former mate’s charms … Dan’s has brought a stern, no-nonsense, Wildean aunt along …

These are all earmarks of the cinematic screwball comedy genre of the 1930’s – Clark Gable, Carol Lombard, William Powell, Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Arthur, Cary Grant/Irene Dunne of “The Awful Truth” …

ICTC’s Fortunate Pezzimenti loves this play, so much so that he traveled to one of his favorite haunts, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, to try to find the script. No luck on that, but an old microfilm copy of the play was unearthed. “The Awful Truth,” on the ICTC’s radar for years, was on its way at last to Buffalo.

Pezzimenti has assembled a handsome cast and they give the story their all: Diane Curley oozes chutzpah as Lucy, with cracks in the armor finally convincingly appearing; Adriano Gatto, as Norman; the evolving Eric Rawski, Zak Ward, Maura Nolan, Marisa Caruso, Chris Kelly – stellar as a one-time Lucy beau – and a true Western New York doyenne, Ellen Horst, complete the cast. Strong ensemble work is an ICTC given.

In the end, “The Awful Truth” charms … marvelously acted, lovingly directed, and long overdue on a Buffalo stage.

3 STARS (out of 4)

Read full review at:  http://buffalonews.com/2018/04/24/ictcs-talent-for-screwball-comedies-works-again-in-the-awful-truth/


“a charmer … staged with flair … fine ensemble … pure vintage” – buffalotheatreguide.com

-by Cherie Messore, Monday, April 23, 2018

The grace and elegance of the upper-crust 1930s society- warts and all – is all part of ‘The Awful Truth’ staged by the Irish Classical Theatre Company. Yes, plenty of pricey perfume may hide the unsavory scent of deception, but when the smell is intoxicatingly sweet and pleasant, do we really care?

. . .this rarely produced work is staged with flair and the cast shines.

This show is a charmer. The stage version had a brief Broadway run and later inspired the film starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.  More character driven than the more familiar film, this works well for ICTC’s fine ensemble cast. When Lucy (played by Diane Curley) was married to Norman (Adrian Gatto), she cheated on him with Rufus (Chris Kelly). Shock: she’s a divorcee! Now she’s angling to marry Texas oil baron Daniel Leeson (Eric Rawski) and stern faced mama Mrs. Leeson (Ellen Horst) is suspicious.  She’s heard plenty of gossip. After all she says, “Rumors don’t usually live this long without some basis of fact.” Daniel is a straight speaking earnest fellow after all, a bit of a braggart with new money, and his mother knows deep down that Lucy is no innocent ingénue, with her snappy retorts and distressingly flippant attitude toward marriage. Could she be the real woman for Daniel and the mother of his children? “Our children,” Daniel says solemnly, “are the Americans of tomorrow.”

Cue the machinations as Lucy tries to hang on to her engagement (he’s wealthy, she’s flits under the facade to support her carefree lifestyle) while dealing with authentic matters of heart. Ah, the struggles of the lovely and in demand.

This is what Irish Classical does so well: this rarely produced work is staged with flair and the cast shines. Curley is sweetly sly and cleverly cunning in her role as the scheming Lucy. With a cascade of wavy hair, she reminded me of Rita Hayworth as Gilda. Rawski – as skilled a character actor as any – is full of Texas bravado but his accent is nondescript and wobbly. Gatto is suave as wronged husband Norman Satterly, the epitome of Art Deco debonair. Maura Nolan and Zak Ward are admirable as Josie and Eustace Trent, the best friends who know Lucy’s secrets. Ward perfectly underplays his role against Nolan’s perkiness. Chris Kelly is Rufus, the root of the scandal, and he’s solid as the “other man.” Maria Caruso shows her comic flair as Celeste the maid who also opens the show by displaying the credits on stage on placards, styled with a nostalgic nod to the film. Director Fortunato Pezzimenti knows how to use this stage and house so well. Look around the walls for backlit sculptures suggesting  a city skyline.

The costumes, lighting, and overall tone have the visual “feel” of a black and white film, too. From obvious things (the period furnishings are painted – you guessed it – black and white), to the subtle washes of color (Lucy’s pale peachy blouse in one scene would read as gray scale on the silver screen of yore), the mood is pure vintage. Yes, back to the good ol’ days, when infidelities were whispered and not shouted, and scandals had indignant albeit forgivable memories. Sift beneath the surface of Arthur Richman’s rather shallow plotline to remember that true love sometimes escapes our grasp and yes, even rich oil barons should listen to their mothers.

“Character driven and what characters!” – 4 Buffalos! – Peter Hall, buffalo rising

THE NIGHT ALIVE at Irish Classical Theatre is character driven, and what characters these down at the heels mortals be.

by Peter Hall, March 14, 2018, 7:55 am

THE BASICS: THE NIGHT ALIVE, a dark comedy by Conor McPherson presented by the Irish Classical Theatre Company, directed by Brian Cavanagh, starring Vincent O’Neill, Brian Mysliwy, Cassie Gorniewicz, Kevin Craig, and Adam Yellen runs through March 25, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 3 & 7:30, Sundays at 2 at ICTC’s home in the Andrews Theatre, 625 Main Street (853-ICTC). Full service bar. Bar snacks. www.irishclassicaltheatre.com Runtime: 2-1/2 hours with one intermission.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH: Not terribly different from Act I of Puccini’s opera LA BOHEME, we meet a down on his luck divorced Dubliner, Tommy, who returns one night to his disheveled “bed sit” with a younger woman, Aimee, all bloodied, whom he has rescued from an altercation, and he cares for her. We then meet his helper on odd jobs (Tommy owns a van you see) “Doc” who is somewhat “delayed” and Maurice, Tommy’s crusty uncle with a heart of gold who owns the house where his nephew rents. Whether or not the playwright Conor McPherson believes in God, he does believe in the devil, who, in the guise of Kenneth, makes a brief appearance.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: Opening on March 2, the Irish Classical Theatre was first out of the gate in what has proven to be an extraordinarily rich month of theater at over a dozen venues all across Buffalo. Now, to be sure, some in the audience sitting near me were baffled as to how THE NIGHT ALIVE could be considered part of ICTC’s promised “season of comedy” but I did laugh out loud several times and, as I was taught, if it ends with a wedding, then it’s a comedy. SPOILER ALERT: This does NOT end in a wedding, per se, but it could, it so totally could. One thing’s for sure: you’ll be talking or at least thinking about the ending for weeks after you see this play.

Brian Mysliwy who plays Tommy can be a bit “over the top” for my taste, but Tommy’s life is such a mess that Mysliwy’s crazed style works perfectly here. He’s both self-centered and caring; he’s living on the edge but always interested in what’s next. Mysliwsy’s is one of the great performances this season, on any stage.

Contrasting to crazed, Cassie Gorniewicz’s performances are usually understated and very “normal.” Here, as Aimee she provides a nice balance to Mysliwy, and she’s believable in the way that woman can be more accepting of those circumstances in life that drive men to want to fix things and end up behaving badly. Aimee is no earth mother, but she’s been around the block once or twice and knows how the world works. She’s a mess, too, though, and can cause problems just by being there.

Kevin Craig does a fine job as the brain addled Doc (“that’s short for Brian”) who lives in a world that is constantly about five minutes behind the rest of us. He is very loyal to Tommy. And Vincent O’Neill, as the aged Uncle Maurice, uses his mime training to excellent advantage as the snoopy landlord. Making a brief appearance as the troublemaker Kenneth, Adam Yellen with his boyish face may have been slightly miscast. I like my bad guys on the skinny “lean and hungry” side.

As it always does, a Paul Bostaph set says it all, and once again this set is cleverly designed with a kitchen area in the middle of the stage (built low enough so as not to obscure sight lines) including a sink with a Bostaph signature feature – real running water! And what a mess it all is, with crap strewn everywhere.

And as he always does as Sound Designer, Tom Makar puts you in the scenes and holds you there, ably assisted by Lighting Designer (et. al.) Brian Cavanagh.

If you, as I, were itching for more than drawing room comedies and historic Irish dramas, this should be your cup (albeit a dirty cup cleaned up with a bit of spit and the corner of an undershirt) of tea.

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Rating System)
FOUR BUFFALOS (out of five):  Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

“superb … stunning … quirky, dark, hilarious … excellent” – buffalotheatreguide.com

by Colin Fleming-Stumpf
Published March 6, 2018

The power of a blackbox theatre — particularly a blackbox theatre “in-the-round” (in which the stage is surrounded by seats on all sides) — is the intimacy it creates. If you’ve been to the Irish Classical Theatre before, you’re familiar with the unique experience that is cultivated through a space like this. The audience feels like they have a unique portal into the characters’ souls, and it often feels like they’re a part of the story the actors are creating. Shows that thrive in these venues usually feature small casts, minimal sets pieces, and a few very multi-layered characters telling a moving story.

This description certainly aligns with “The Night Alive”, the award-winning play written by Irish playwright Conor McPherson that recently opened at Buffalo’s Irish Classical Theatre Company (ICTC). The show is quirky, dark, hilarious, complicated, and deeply moving. With a five-person cast and a story that beautifully weaves together a lot of heavy thematic material, it is the perfect pairing of play and performance space.

“The Night Alive” is set in the basement of a house in Dublin which is inhabited by Tommy (Brian Mysliwy), a divorced laborer who lives in squalor and doesn’t seem to mind it. He rents the room from his Uncle Maurice (Vincent O’Neill) who lives upstairs. Tommy’s friend, Doc (Kevin Craig), also sleeps in the room and helps Tommy doing odd jobs with Tommy’s van. Doc isn’t the brightest bulb, but he’s a fiercely loyal friend, and full of ideas and imagination.

One night Tommy rescues a young prostitute called Aimee (Cassie Gorniewicz) from a beating on the street. He brings her home to get her cleaned up and she ends up staying. A tentative friendship develops between Tommy and Aimee and indeed between Aimee and the other men in the house over the following weeks. Trouble crashes into their lives however, when Aimee’s ex-boyfriend/pimp Kenneth (Adam Yellen), comes looking for her.

“The Night Alive” earned Conor McPherson the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play 2013, and it’s no wonder why. The script is a dark, quirky masterpiece that is as funny as it is sorrowful, and the way in which these two seemingly distant emotions are woven together throughout the show is pretty stunning.

ICTC’s production of “The Night Alive” is superb, and its strength lies in the talent of its small cast, who all bring unique and distinct characters to the theatre’s stage. Some particularly great standouts (though the whole cast was outstanding): Vincent O’Neill (who is also ICTC’s Co-Founder and Artistic Director) is a disheveled, crotchety, manic old geezer who delivers constant laughs one minute, and the next minute is giving a heartbreaking monologue about the loss of his wife, and Adam Yellen, who—while only in the show for two scenes—is a terrifying nightmare of a thug.

ICTC’s production of “The Night Alive” is excellent. It will challenge you, make you laugh, and have you contemplating life and death. It might also give you a craving for turnips (you’ll get the joke after you see the show).