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THEATER REVIEW

Demons emerge as a house gets rebuilt in an Irish town

June 19, 2008|David C. Nichols | Special to The Times

A dark comic edge infiltrates "The Blowin of Baile Gall" at the Lyric Theatre, and it trumps some oddities of form. This second entry in Irish playwright Ronan Noone's trilogy about modern-day Connemara has obvious pertinence in its sardonic study of xenophobia and territorialism.

The titular "blowin" refers to persons not born and raised in Baile Gall, which rankles Eamon Collins Jr. (Tim Hamelen). An oft-plastered plasterer who has long swindled the welfare system, Eamon's resentment at remodeling his former family home for English buyers is hardly simple.

For starters, Eamon won't let up on local painter Molly Black (Simone Sullivan), once briefly his girlfriend. He scorns her shaky allegiance to younger, recovering alcoholic Stephen O'Gorman (Dan O'Brien), incessantly baiting "Wild Stevie" about his orphan heritage.

Even more galling is Samuel Carson Jr. (Blake Bowen), son of a longtime rival family, who left for America as a teen and has returned as government contractor of this project. After "The Yank" illegally hires Nigerian refugee Laurence (John Brooks) over Eamon's cousin, escalating confrontations converge in sudden, pointless tragedy.

Noone never settles for one contradiction when he can juggle seven, yet his idiomatic dialogue has an authentic crackle. Director Matthew Cullinan assembles a resourceful creative team, his own set design an apt mess, and his fine cast carries the conflict-laden, slightly overextended script. Hamelen plays Eamon's manic vitriol to the hilt, and Sullivan hovers between feisty and maternal, exactly right. Bowen works against his innate affability to register Sam's many demons, while O'Brien and Brooks adroitly underplay to the violent conclusion.

That is maybe the biggest drawback to Noone's narrative, which ends on a jolt that shocks without quite hitting the intended cathartic irony. Melodramatic, yes, but "Baile Gall" is still a worthy, thought-provoking nail-biter.

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'The Blowin of Baile Gall'

Where: Lyric Theatre, 520 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays

Ends: June 29

Price: $20

Contact: (323) 939-9220

Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes

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