Eddie The Pigeon (John Keating) lives at The Taj Mahal Trailer Park in West Ireland. Since his mamie died, the good-hearted, pixilated, rather simple, thirty-some-year-old is alone in the dilapidated home they shared. His needs are simple, met by hiking 7 miles to a mall. Lengthy conversations to himself include quotes by Elvis Presley (his hero), mamie, local faerie folklore, and what sounds verbatim like an old encyclopedia.
One night, Eddie comes home to find a girl passed out in the woods. (We’ve watched her unceremoniously dumped there by a young man who quickly drives away.) Lolly (playwright, Laoisa Sexton) is wearing a t-shirt, tutu, silver, cork heeled sandals, and a pink feather boa. Her tights are torn, her leg bruised, heavy rock n’roll make-up smeared. She looks cheap and high. Eddie hauls her into the trailer like a rag doll, cheerily talking.
Laosia Sexton, Zoe Watkins
Eventually, after MUCH exposition, she wakes and turns on her savior -also with MUCH exposition- ricocheting between grisly threats, chatting about the dance from which she’d come, and bragging about her enormous, upcoming wedding to the creep who left her there- as if she and Eddie were old friends. Go figure.
When Aunty Rosie aka Crystal Chandelier (Zoe Watkins, dressed in kind) shows up by taxi toting a naked, inflated doll replete with erection (don’t ask), the women dance and tease Eddie offering sexual favors he barely comprehends. All is copacetic until Josie (Johnny Hopkins) comes back looking for drugs left in his jacket pocket.
Zoe Watkins, Johnny Hopkins
Charlie Corcoran’s Set, the cross section of a trailer and adjacent woods (lit by Eddie with Christmas lights), is just right- worn, spare, confined. Martha Hally’s gloriously tacky costumes imaginatively fit situation and character.
Director Alan Cox utilizes the small space with creativity. Relationships are visually as well as verbally illuminated. The inflated doll is integrated to droll advantage. When the party drinks and snorts coke, induced states are completely credible. A single violent gesture is beautifully staged. What occurs offstage is well communicated. Reining in Ms. Sexton would’ve helped the piece.
John Keating, with a record of successful appearances at Irish Rep, never disappoints. Here, he’s innocent, forthright, and appealing throughout, never losing focus, never anything less than true to Eddie.
Zoe Watkins does a fine job inhabiting floozie, Aunty Rose. The actress is as physically specific as she is emotionally. Johnny Hopkin’s Josie is a yeoman like bully.
As Lolly, playwright Laoisa Sexton too often seems too forced. It’s difficult to discern how much of this is due to over writing, however. An exception is the change of heart about her host which we watch develop with pleasure.
The girl is unconscious a very long time. When she wakes, Sexton doesn’t give her heroine time to evolve from angry/frightened to gossipy/trusting. At one point, Eddie spends an ungodly period in the bathroom so Sexton can give Lolly and Rosie alone time. Faerie folk, vis a vis legends and an unseen beast, seem stuck in after the fact. On the upside, much detailed dialogue effectively sets class, time, and place, situation and characters might be otherwise intriguing. The play needs editing, but most of all, we need to care. And don’t.
Note to theater: It’s extremely distracting to hear music and dance (pounding feet) from the production upstairs.
Photos by Carol Rosegg
Opening: Zoe Watkins, John Keating, Laosia Sexton
The Pigeon in the Taj Mahal – A Modern Fairytale by Laoisa Sexton
Directed by Alan Cox
Irish Repertory Theatre
132 West 22 Street
Through December 31, 2016