Peggy Sue Dunigan

Soulstice stages Conor McPherson’s psychological drama

By - Feb 9th, 2011 06:25 pm
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The past looms large in Conor McPherson’s play about a troubled therapist and his troubled patient. Soulstice Theatre photo.

Soulstice Theatre will stage the local premiere of Shining City, Irish playwright Conor McPherson‘s 2006 play about a therapist and his patient.  The piece has autobiographical overtones; McPherson happens to be a recovering alcoholic and has spent considerable time in therapy, only to discover that therapist cope with dysfunction as much, if not more, than their patients.

Shining City involves four characters and focuses on two: Ian, a retired priest turned therapist, and John, a man devastated by his wife’s tragic death. Both must confront their turbulent relationships while grappling with grief and loss.

Solstice plans to recreate the intimate atmosphere of the therapist’s office. The company will seat an audience limited to 50 directly on stage. As no more than two actors appear on stage at any one time, this cozy setting will offer a very private viewpoint, like observers evaluating the session.

The office reflects urban, modern Dublin. It departs from Irish literary tradition by focusing on secular, personal issues instead of the country’s connection to the land and religious politics. McPherson, among the most renowned of contemporary Irish playwrights, started writing in his 20s and is now in his early 40’s. His legacy thus far includes The Seafarer and The Weir, both of which the Milwaukee Rep produced in recent seasons.

“Shining City is a very intriguing play,” said Soulstice board member Margaret Casey. “The Irish storytelling drew me in.”

McPherson’s dialogue advances in poetic rhythms. Ghosts, frequent and extraordinary visitors in McPherson scripts, visit Shining City. In troubled times, ordinary human connections can fail when needed most.

Matthew Michaelis is directing the show, with David Ferrie, Josh Perkins, Jillian Stephens and Jordan Gwiazdorski. A pay-what-you-can preview is set for Thursday, Feb. 10, and the formal opening is Friday Feb. 11. Shining City runs through Feb. 26 at the Marian Center for Non Profits (St. Francis) in the 3rd Floor Auditorium Theater, 3211 S. Lake Drive. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. throughout the run. Part of the proceeds from the tickets will benefit the Irish Cultural & Heritage Center. Tickets at $15 and $12 at the Soulstice web site. Order by phone at 414 431.3187

Categories: A/C Feature 2, Theater

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