Theater 808 revives Helen Edmundson's family drama set in 17th-century Ireland, during Oliver Cromwell's ruthless campaign to force out Catholics. More…
Robert, an English aristocrat, and his free-spirited Irish wife, Maddy, find their loving relationship threatened by Ireland's dangerous political climate. Should Robert ensure his own economic prosperity by betraying his wife and child, or should he risk banishment to an inhospitable land to keep his family intact? 'The Clearing' examines our universal desire for acceptance amid prejudice and fear in a tale of treachery, romance, and passion.
"A very powerful and beautifully written work...This outstanding production really is one not to be missed...The actors’ performances are superb across the board. I was especially impressed by Quinn Cassavale who is vibrant, courageous and passionate as Madeleine and by Neal Mayer who is as coldly Mephistophelian as Sir Charles Sturman as one can possibly imagine. But I also thought that Lauren Currie Lewis is delightful as the innocent Killaine." Full Review
"A masterful revival...'The Clearing' moves steadily from its naturalistic beginning to become more expressionistic in Act II, and the characters transform into representative types. If you find yourself caught up in the very human story of the individuals being portrayed early on, you will have to give it up for the near-mythic turn the play takes as events unfold...But even with the fading of the characters as real people, the cast, under Pamela Moller Kareman's direction, is quite strong." Full Review
“Playwright Helen Edmundson whose stage plays have been mostly adaptations of famous literature (‘The Mill on the Floss’, ‘War and Peace’, ‘Anna Karenina’, as well as ‘Coram Boy’ and ‘Thérèse Raquin’ both seen on Broadway) tells her story in the leisurely way one might write a novel. While the material is both shocking and surprising, director Pamela Moller Kareman has undercut the inherent tension in the play by the choices she has made.” Full Review
"It is only as we view the play that we begin to understand the meaning behind these clues. We are meant to apply metaphoric thinking to make the shock of those historical events relevant to our times...This is a laudable endeavor to make this dark period of Ireland relevant to a 21st century audience. By modernizing the look of the play, attempting to tie it to contemporary issues such as ethnic cleansing or the Holocaust, it creates an emotional distance, becomes more intellectual." Full Review
"The flat first act partially stems from the playwright’s long exposition and artificial, meant-to-be 17th-century language. But the stilted direction of Kareman contributes to the fact that you don’t much care about the characters until the second act...The principal cast reminded me of Jon Lovitz as the thespian on 'SNL'...Playwright Helen Edmundson makes a valiant attempt at encapsulating the events, oral history handed down generation to generation by her own family." Full Review
"A history play re-conceived as a modernist take on universal themes has the potential to reveal deep truths. Yet in director Pamela Moller Kareman’s design-heavy treatment of Helen Edmundson’s play, the modernist gloss dulls the overall impact. Concept trumps nuance, speeches are swallowed by actor movements, costuming choices raise more questions than answers, and specifics and universals end up in a bit of a muddle...A frustrating treatment of the historical material." Full Review
"Despite its thematic importance, 'The Clearing' is flawed. It imparts this chunk of horrible history with glancing blows, short-circuiting the power and gravitas of its awful and gut-wrenching circumstances...Unfortunately, Pamela Moller Kareman’s direction doesn’t successfully elevate Edmunson’s limited and scattershot script...Acting was uneven (as were the accents), and although the pace moves along, there are no relieving light moments–no letup in heaviness and angst." Full Review
"Edmundson has written a classic piece of historical drama with trajectory, meat and message. Much of the language is rich and appealing. Unfortunately, this is barely discernible in a wrongheaded production. Among a company of eight, perhaps two actors maintain focus...Where does one begin with a director who pins her actors’ arms stiffly to their sides when gestures would be natural [and] oversees actors conveying passionate speeches with hands in their pockets?" Full Review
See it if You want to see a modern take on a classic story and have an interest in Irish History
Don't see it if You want periwigs and tights and are only interested in a traditional take on a compelling story
See it if you are a fan of Irish Drama - lots of that here. Intense and moving, heart wrenching plot, characters to love and hate.
Don't see it if Intense drama is not your favorite thing; cell phones and modern day dress in an historic setting upset your sense of time/place.
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