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Crackskull Row

From 20 critic and 59 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Intense, Absorbing, Confusing, Edgy

About the show

After a successful Off-Off-Broadway run, The Cell's mounting of Honor Molloy's dysfunctional family drama transfers to the Irish Repertory Theatre. More…

In 1999, Rasher Moorigan is finally released from prison after serving time for a monstrous crime he committed more than 30 years earlier. After reuniting with his mother, an old woman haunted by a vanished Dublin, they confront the ghosts of the past and an uncertain future.

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Molloy spins a tale of intrigue and madness as she exposes the underbelly of a complex dysfunctional family...That past is played out brilliantly by the engaging cast who give their multiple characters and their multifarious conflicts authenticity and believability...Under Kira Simring’s direction, 'Crackskull Row' is as good as it gets and it does not get better than this...'Crackskull Row' is not to be missed. Just leave propriety and apprehension behind." Full Review

Front Row Center

“Director Kira Simring and her talented cast manage the nifty trick of creating a path of destruction that is both in and out of time…The double casting adds to the mind warp…Ms. Molloy writes with a poetic sensibility, a fondness for puns and an ear for metaphor…Ghosts, when they arrive, tend to show up barefoot (and sometimes, wondrously, from out of the fireplace).” Full Review


"Molloy adds just enough of a narrative bridge, with snippets of poetic narrative, for us to understand how Masher’s deranged emotions effect the personages we see in various scenes...This is above all a dynamic and fascinating tale of a family at its most primitive and self-retributive...The director and design crew’s excellent work conveys the play’s symbolism and themes." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"Under Simring’s lyrical direction, there is a very Oedipal twang and structure...Molloy plays with flashbacks and memories that start with a stellar performance by Colin Lane as a jailed man looking through the prison bars back into his past...This is a bleak and dark exploration of jealousy, rage, and maternal manipulation...If only there had been less guilt and ghosts on 'Crackskull Row'...all would have turned out quite differently, but that’s not how the Irish roll." Full Review


"A minor problem with the play's structure is that it's difficult to keep track of the characters' secrets and lies as they slip into and out of their own regrettable past and present selves. Yet director Kira Simring has a firm grip on the action and keeps the cast invested in their unlikable characters. Receptive audiences will find the weird language that Molloy has created fascinating and find themselves unwittingly drawn into the nightmarish scene." Full Review


for a previous production "Alternating between black comedy and emotional intensity, this wildly dysfunctional family drama is cleverly written, hypnotically presented and sensationally performed...Director Kira Simring’s superior staging theatrically presents the play’s complicated situations with clarity and surrealistic flourishes...'Crackskull Row's' lurid aspects successfully coexist with realism making it sometimes frightening and always entertaining." Full Review

The New York Times

for a previous production "Grotesque but richly satisfying...Ms. Molloy enters the ring, exploring rage, dissolution, sexual perversity and family history with a bleak and penetrating acuity...The performers, directed by Kira Simring, are uniformly on point, with a grizzled Mr. Lane and a disheveled Ms. Donnelly especially fine...But it is Ms. Molloy’s salty, slangy yet singsong dialogue that most resonates." Full Review

Stage Buddy

for a previous production "Molloy puts a spell on words and rearranges them according to the rasp of her own rhythm. They are lyrical and symmetrical and pauses are necessary to soak them in. The excellent cast place their bets on the melody and they are all the more tuneful for it. Director Kira Simring leads from the language and guides lust and menace in the actions and breathing space." Full Review

Irish Central

for a previous production "As Masher, Terry Donnelly is variously mother Ireland, the infernal Morrigan of Irish myth, the woman you run to and the woman you try to escape...I can’t think of the last time I’ve seen a female character given this much agency in an Irish play...Beautifully written and at all times absorbing because it understands the potency of the themes it has unleashed...Few Irish playwrights have dared to be this ambitious in years. 'Crackskull Row' blazes to life with an anguished and unsettling howl." Full Review

On Stage Blog

for a previous production "The dark and disturbing play by Honor Molloy walks in circles through the swamped woods of one’s mind, leaving us without the firm ground of reality until the end...‘Crackskull Row’ intertwines realism and myth, giving a homicide in Dublin the taste of a Greek tragedy. It’s a very heavy and painful story brilliantly worded by Honor Molloy and directed by Kira Simring." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

for a previous production "This is a particularly unpleasant ghost story the playwright serves up, filled with images of blood and filth and Oedipal obsession that are difficult to shake off upon exiting the theater...Simring and the entire cast have thrown themselves completely into the creep-fest, and it certainly is a polished work...Molloy's play does contain elements of black humor, but she brings a unique blend of hyperrealism and psychological morass that takes 'Crackskull' to a whole new level of ickiness." Full Review

Washington Square News

for a previous production "In the world of theater that tackles taboo topics, 'Crackskull Row' has undeniably added its name to the list...One leaves the theater mystified. To be sure, the show was dark and unsettling. Its themes were off-putting—or disturbing—to say the least, but it certainly is not a 75-minute display of horror. 'Crackskull Row' certainly does give the curious mind a lot to work with." Full Review

Applause! Applause!

for a previous production "To watch this show, you must suspend wanting immediate gratification or clarity. All will be revealed in time. There is a powerful unsettling scene regarding mother-son incest and unexpected twists and turns. I recommend this play to anyone who appreciates good acting, writing and directing, and who is willing and strong enough to venture into an emotionally challenging place. This show is not for the sensitive or faint of heart but will leave a lasting impression." Full Review

The Reviews Hub

for a previous production "Director Kira Simring clearly guided the cast in building a tight ensemble. Yet it is the moments when the tension spikes and the reality becomes blurred that the specificity wanes...The story and language of 'Crackskull Row' are exquisite, and the performances from the actors are lovely against a beautifully designed set. However, looking at the piece as a whole, it falls short of becoming triumphant by leaving the audience asking questions that detract from the play rather than enhance it." Full Review

Woman Around Town

for a previous production "One gathers that this play was pulled from the bottom of playwright Honor Molloy’s trunk. It shows. This is not to say there isn’t excellent writing here or a compelling story, but rather that intermittent weeding and additional on-subject writing would make the piece immeasurably more successful…Both Donnelly and Lane inhabit their characters...Director Kira Simring does a splendid job of utilizing the set…Outbreaks are mostly kept to plausibility. Intimacy is beautifully depicted." Full Review

Off Off Online

for a previous production "There is much to admire about the production, including some fine performances...'Crackskull Row' often values dramatic potential over clarity, and while some climactic, intimate scenes are intensely dramatic, others fall into a spasmodic mode of meaningless activity. Save for a few rare scenes of sparkling chemistry, the production threatens to come away at the seams...Yet, the production is redeemed and revived by its flowing, narrative core, and the actors who bring it to life." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

for a previous production “Molloy’s language may occasionally prove as baffling as her plotting; written in a dense Dublin Irish patois filled with all sorts of colorfully imaginative expressions, it privileges atmosphere over clarity, sometimes sounding like Conor McPherson on a wee hours pub crawl...Judging by its vagueness the play might as easily have been called ‘Scratchskull Row;' still, bits and pieces of its dramatic detritus are definitely worth salvaging.” Full Review


for a previous production "Seldom as spooky as it wants to be…Molloy's playful language is really the star of the show. It verges on twee in its own bleak Irish way, but its musicality is truly enjoyable. Impressively, the four-person cast never flinches, making Molloy's whimsical poetry seem perfectly natural…Still, one gets the sense that the playwright is not as committed to tone as the design team…By the time the climax comes, it is too over-the-top to take seriously." Full Review

Time Out New York

for a previous production "The text is beautifully constructed, but it asks for magic, and Kira Simring's un-beautiful production hasn't got much of a spell to cast. A great deal of the trouble is casting. Donnelly stays pert even in the face of black doom; Lane can't connect to the material at all. Happily, though, the younger pair was made to speak this stuff...Occasionally they have a scene together. You wait the whole show for these moments—only in them does Molloy's witchcraft do its work. Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

for a previous production "Molloy has little interest in providing the characters with the psychological underpinnings that might justify their actions—if, indeed, anything could; instead, she prefers to pile on the shockers. Kira Simring's direction can't supply what the play so sorely lacks; as a result, her blunt, straightforward staging is often borderline risible, especially during the overheated climax…Molloy reaches for Greek tragedy and ends up with something closer to an episode of 'Maury Povich.'" Full Review

This is theater!!!, Great writing, Masterful, Riveting, Great acting

See it if You appreciate original creative talent infused theater with masterful script, direction, staging, & OMG great acting! Enjoy powerful drama!

Don't see it if You dislike dark drama that challenges traditional moral standards. You dislike shifting of time & reality with paranormal & fantasy plots.

Also This is a rare gem among the rubbish of overproduced insipid shallow p... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Epic, Must see, Riveting

See it if You like dark, dark, dark Irish drama about poverty, abuse, and ensuing mental illness. Performances are top rate.

Don't see it if You have a weak stomach for verbal and physical violence. 80 minutes of on the edge of your seat drama.

Riveting, Edgy, Masterful, Haunting, Enchanting

See it if Dark family mystery with intense characters, ghosts, and gorgeous language. I was transfixed, torched and blown away. What an ending!

Don't see it if The accents will put you off, or you don't enjoy this much intensity, including sex and violence.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You like Irish plays. Incest, violence, sadness, fantasy, realism, a little of everything. Super set, wonderful acting, terrific writing.

Don't see it if If Irish accents turn you off. If you want a light funny sweet play, this is not it.

Also Plot takes twists and turns. Guaranteed that you will discuss after. M... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Riveting

See it if you like Irish plays with humor and drama and mysticism. great acting and anguish.

Don't see it if you don't like Irish accents, dysfunctional families, cast playing multiple roles, non-linear plot.

Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting, Engaging

See it if you are not afraid of a dark story in an intimate setting. It reminded me of some of Fellini's movies.

Don't see it if a horrific story is going to upset you too much.

Also This is a real treat for the serious theatergoer

Great acting, Great staging, Intense, Edgy

See it if you enjoy dark Irish gothic plays and terrific acting. Strong ensemble with Gina Costigan's performance amazing. Masterful direction too.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy a complicated text or a very dark play about family secrets. Not for fans of comedies or musicals.

Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you like Irish plays and funny but gloomy family sagas, great accents, edgy but gradually revealed storyline & secrets

Don't see it if you have trouble with nonlinear structure and characters playing multiple versions of themselves or not, thick Irish accents, sad characters

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Dizzying

See it if You love intensely, intimate plays about Irish incest.

Don't see it if You are triggered by sexual assault.

Ambitious, Confusing, Edgy, Intense, Good writing

See it if Molloy's engrossing pitch-black dramedy of family history at its most perverse Language can border on poetic Actors all fine esp Costigan

Don't see it if Irish accents can detract as well as dark subject Simring's breakneck pacing often disorients Reminiscent of early McDonagh or Philip Ridley

Intense, Disturbing

See it if you like dysfunctional families, are not turned off by incest.

Don't see it if you are easily offended.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Ambitious, Intense, Intelligent

See it if you love the sound of the irish brogue and super dysfunctional family life, filled with rage, jealousy, and violence. deep, dirty, dark.

Don't see it if you like light and frothy. this is dark and dirty. small but functional staging

Irish accents and slang too heavy to understan!

See it if You love everything Irish....including incest and violence of the desperate

Don't see it if you like GREAT Irish theater,,,this is a poor one!

Confusing, Disappointing, Depressing

See it if you think Irish playwrights can do no wrong - that was my mistake....

Don't see it if you prefer a little laughter with almost buckets of tears. I visited lovely Ireland this past summer. Apparently, Ire. 66 was 180 degr. off.

Also It takes rather a bit more - one might say TONS MORE - to shock these ... Read more Read less

Confusing, Insipid, Excruciating, Cliched, Indulgent

See it if You love formula driven Irish plays performed in a sub basement

Don't see it if You rather spend your time doing something productive like washing clothes

Confusing, Disappointing, Edgy, Intense, Overrated

See it if You like dark Irish theatre (though I do, and didn't like the show).

Don't see it if You're not wearing ten layers of clothing, because they pump arctic air into the theatre.

Also The climax was not earned. The playwright did not build the characters... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intense, Excruciating, Do not bring the kids, Overrated

See it if I don't really recommend it. Great acting but unpleasant to watch. Nice set though. The tiniest stage I've ever seen. Very intimate theater

Don't see it if If you don't like seeing plays about incest. Seemed long. Ugh!!

Confusing, Disappointing, Indulgent, Overrated

See it if you enjoy Irish drama. The playwright, Honor Molloy, is a third-rate Martin McDonagh.

Don't see it if you get upset about incestuous themes. Also, characters go from young to old and back, and can be very confusing.

For a previous production
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful

See it if You like plays that have non-linear plots, deeply troubled characters and controversial subject matter.

Don't see it if If you have difficulty following a plot that shifts time periods, deals with morality issues, has trouble understanding Irish accents

For a previous production
Absorbing, Edgy, Intense, Riveting, Great writing

See it if you appreciate intensity, Irish lore & melodrama or want to be voyeur to a poor incestuous family. Masterful acting, set design & prop work.

Don't see it if Actors play multiple characters, which others found confusing. Trigger warning: mother-son kissing & implied sex, domestic violence & blood.

For a previous production
Edgy, Confusing, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Riveting

See it if I just gotta say i loved it- can't give an explanation except it was a woman's trails and tribulations and not necess PC. How do we cope?

Don't see it if You don't like a thick accent, or incest or honest means of getting by or unconventional coping methods. This is in your face theatre.

For a previous production
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great staging

See it if you like a show that grows on you and makes you wonder afterward. You begin to see the variations . Also 4 super actors

Don't see it if you are easily upset about horrible family relationships,

For a previous production
Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if you've seen and appreciated a Beckett play. Dark, compelling and mysterious look at death and family life where the past is never over.

Don't see it if you cannot hang in there not knowing what is going on until later--and even then it's not fully clear--and thick Irish brogues wont do.

Also I was blown away by this play. It has stayed with me and popped into m... Read more Read less

For a previous production
Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if If you enjoy dark comedy, you want to be challenged.and you like to analyze themes and motifs

Don't see it if If you prefer a linear structure and don't think much of updated Oedipal themes

For a previous production
Great acting, Clever, Intelligent, Original

See it if You like Irish culture, clever writing, great acting and an amazing set

Don't see it if You don't like to think and figure things out.

Cast & Creatives (13)