Woodlawn Heights, Bronx – a predominantly Irish neighborhood. Sooner or later, everyone falls into Frank’s (Gerard McNamee) friendly, lowlit bar. Some practically live there. Everyone knows everyone. Thirty something James (Cillian O’Sullivan) Frank’s nephew, came over to write but hasn’t (as far as we know) put a word on paper. Fired from the bar for drinking up expensive stock and bedding every attractive female, he goes home to find his wife leaving him and begrudgingly takes a job at a café. Ruby (Victoria Meade) who hangs around the café, turns up later at most inopportune times.
Best friend Eoin (Shaun Kennedy), apparently here without papers (a single reference), seems to do nothing but drink – and later do drugs. One infers he’s a slacker on and off the wagon. Frank’s other bartender Declan (Patrick Scherrer) is dating 18 year-old Brittany who’s so vapid and self-involved (she’s seems like 15) as to make the liaison unbelievable. When he declares his love, she distractedly says, “Thanks babe,” puts her headphones on, and bounces off, eyes glued to the phone.
One day, a gregarious stranger named Timmy Thomas (John Keating) enters the bar buying Eoin a drink, offering a proposition they take to James. The young men are to go to Harlem and place a $10,000 bet on “sure thing” horse Misty Button for which they’ll be paid $500 each. Timmy Thomas can’t do it himself because he’s on bad terms with the bookie. Odds are 35-1. Timmy Thomas stands to make a bundle. Unfortunately, James and Eoin naively get drunk and coked up instead, assuming the horse won’t win. But it does.
They quickly discover the bankroll did not, in fact, come from Timmy Thomas, but rather a thug named Alonzo (Bret Lada) who shows up with bodyguards demanding his win. He shoots Timmy Thomas and tells the boys they work for him now. Their first assignment is a murder. Ruby insinuates herself on the scene. She likes to play gangster. There’s an angry ghost. Family loyalty is shredded. Several robberies, more than one killing, and a suicide occur. (None overly gushing or gratuitous.) One action pushes the next like a pinball. Things, however, are not what they seem.
The film is naturally acted and tautly shot. Leads are excellent. Its screenplay, though clever, has some holes. The film would improve with some background on the protagonists. Making Eoin and Jimmy alcoholics (the latter extremely depressed as well) because they’re Irish is lazy. Nonetheless, Misty Button (perhaps a better name?) is thoroughly entertaining. It’s unlikely you’ll figure out what’s happening much before James.
Misty Button (Film)
Locked in the Attic Productions New York
Written and Directed by Seanie Sugrue
With Gillian O’Sullivan, Shaun Kennedy, Victoria Meade, Patrick Sherrer, Bret Lada, John Keating (often seen onstage at Irish Repertory; always a pleasure to watch)
Opening Photo Shaun Kennedy and Cillian O’Sullivan Courtesy of Locked in the Attic
The 13th Annual Origin First Irish Theatre Festival – Online
Recorded Theatre Productions, Films, and Documentaries, Panels, and Talks and Special Events.