Irish Rep presents the American premiere of this cantankerous comedy about a cranky Irish farmer whose bubble bath is interrupted by a slimy land developer. More…
Old Irish farmer Hugh Pugh is having his first wash in four years. His sudden interest in hygiene has been brought on by the upcoming visit of his estranged brother, but another visitor arrives mid-soak. Developer Rob McNulty is hoping to buy a field to convert to a golf course, but Hugh is far more interested in spinning yarns than signing contracts. Excruciating negotiations ensue, amidst the suds and rubber duck, in this meeting of avarice and ambition.
"Irish playwright John McManus’ dialogue is laden with mordant Irish wit and plenty of colorful details woven in...Director Ciarán O’Reilly’s staging has a variety of business and keeps the pace and action energetic. Mr. O’Reilly’s work with the actors has yielded excellent performances of great charm and depth...It’s a hugely enjoyable blend of absurdity and harsh reality." Full Review
"Under Ciarán O’Reilly’s steady and thoughtful direction, Peter Maloney and Rufus Collins make Laurel and Hardy look like amateurs with a comedic repartee that keeps the audience in stitches – until the surprise ending changes the mood drastically. Their banter is fast-paced and physical and the epitome of good timing." Full Review
"Playwright John McManus has a devilish sense of humor and his nutty play, 'The Quare Land,' is a barrel of laughs, thanks both to his outrageously funny lines and Maloney’s canny performance that never lets up...Director Ciarán O’Reilly keeps the pace brisk and the monologue and dialogue rapidly confrontational, with excellent comic as well as dramatic timing." Full Review
"It's that kind of realism that distinguishes Ciarán O'Reilly's direction and the production as a whole...Though he never leaves the tub, Maloney fills the stage with his presence like a blustering King Lear. Collins also impresses with a nuanced performance. Both actors make 'The Quare Land' a must-see." Full Review
"Maloney is one of the theater's treasures and his cantankerous curmudgeon slowly turning into an avaricious wheeler-dealer is a joy to watch. Sitting the play's entire 90 minutes in a bubble-bath, he makes Hugh an eccentric charmer it's hard not to like. Collins is a selfless straight man to Maloney's Hugh and manages to achieve a measure of pity. Smartly directed by Ciaran O'Reilly, 'The Quare Land' is a delightful start to the Irish Rep season." Full Review
"It's inevitable that 'The Quare Land' belongs to the actor playing Pugh. But Collins gives a fine performance as well...The two have just the right chemistry for McManus's script. And under Ciarán O'Reilly's direction, their joint performance is an object lesson in comic timing and a highlight of the fall theater season." Full Review
"This uproarious two-hander is a clever satire addressing greed, the relationship of the Irish to the land, and the changed values of the 'new Ireland' in the 21st century...A knowledge of Irish ways may make 'The Quare Land' a fuller experience, but it’s by no means a requirement for understanding the universal truths that McManus touches on. It’s a hilarious ninety minutes with a great payoff – time well spent." Full Review
"Playwright McManus took his inspiration for 'The Quare Land' from a bathtub scene in the Clint Eastwood movie 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.' The play has a satisfying lawlessness that fits the stimulus. It is funny, wicked and full of mischief. O'Reilly's direction reels in the darkness with as much adeptness as Hugh Pugh's beer retrieving pulleys." Full Review
"Hugh’s richly colloquial language, delivered in a thickly colorful Irish brogue, is all you could want from a character like this, but the man goes on and on at such length, and eventually grows so tediously nasty that you want the playwright to find a way to throttle him once and for all. That he does, of course, but perhaps a half hour too late to do you any good." Full Review
"Mr. Maloney captures the charm of this eccentric mischievous imp...Mr. McManus' script is witty and shows how the Irish feel about their land from two different viewpoints. Ciarán O’Reilly’s direction is spot on and he brings out the best from his two actors. The set is clever in the use of space and really brings the reality of High’s life into perspective." Full Review
"John McManus’ play is quick, tight (till ¾ of the way through), clever, and entertaining. Pugh’s backstory is marvelously imagined...Director Ciaran O’Reilly does a terrific job with small business it will be more fun for you to observe first hand...My only caveat is that the piece is 10 to 15 minutes too long." Full Review
"Watching a 90-year-old man take his first bath in several years might not sound like a barrel of laughs, but put Irish Rep regular Peter Maloney in that tub, and you're guaranteed a good time...Some plot twists are overly tidy, but no matter. It's a treat to hang out with this rascally, irascible old-timer." Full Review
"An entertaining, nicely paced two-hander...Playwright John McManus has fashioned a cautionary tale that works, thanks to the deft performances...The production is aided by Charlie Corcoran's excellent set, which strikes a note of comedy and pathos. And while there are certain stretches in the script, it makes several key points. First, appearances are deceiving; second, that while money and power may corrupt, what's most corrosive to the soul is the casual cruelty that accompanies them." Full Review
"Director Ciarán O'Reilly has all the elements we admire in an Irish comedy...It's possible McManus, a promising new playwright, intended the play as a comment on Irish obsession with land. McNulty and Pugh are equally avaricious and manipulative. But this deeper meaning is often lost in the humor. Most of this rather short play is filled with the ensuing duel between the two men. The humor is propelled by McManus's fine use of language and Collins and Maloney's excellent acting." Full Review
"Maloney keeps the cantankerous Hugh just likeable enough, and Collins elicits both laughs and empathy with Rob's increasing frustration and hostility. 'The Quare Land' looks to the past and the future, reaping both laughs and reflection, and, unless you're Rob McNulty, it's probably the most entertaining 90 minutes that you can have watching an elderly farmer in a bathtub." Full Review
"An evening of engaging, moving entertainment...Maloney in the tub, and with little to go on but his voice and expressions, gives a performance full of rich nuance...A dark story is realized with good humor and an incredibly satisfying production." Full Review
"'The Quare Land' induces some hearty chuckles. At the same time, however, it’s a bit difficult to accept the lengths to which Rob will go to seal the deal, and the demeaning ways in which Hugh turns Rob into a toadie fail to amuse. Similarly, the production’s climax comes not so much as a shock as quick-fix attempt to wind up this shaggy dog story...Regardless it’s a joy to spend 70 minutes in Maloney’s presence." Full Review
"I’m ambivalent about ‘Quare Land’; leaning towards dislike, but able to acknowledge enough of it’s sizable prowess to prevent actively taking issue with it. In fact, I’ll still tell you to go see it, it’s an interesting piece, funny, and there’s a good chance you’ll get something good out of it. But for whatever reason, I didn’t." Full Review
"If you’re the type of person who enjoys watching a crazy but endearing old guy frustrate the hell out of a younger business man, then this show will deliver. If, like me, you tend to grow frustrated at conversations that don’t go anywhere, then you might want to sit this one out." Full Review
"Amusing but rudderless...At ten minutes in length, this would be straining; at 75 minutes, it's practically coma-inducing...Director O'Reilly creates a few dynamic moments among the static dramatic requirements playwright McManus has imposed. But he's still tasked with transforming low comedy into high drama without possessing the raw material that might make it possible. Knowing when enough is too much is critical, and it's not clear that McManus does." Full Review
"After 20 minutes or so of watching Hugh behave like the world's oldest spoiled brat, claustrophobia set in and I began to feel I might be trapped with him forever. It certainly doesn't help that, under the direction of Ciarán O'Reilly, Peter Maloney plays Hugh on a single note of bluster, shouting out line after line until you're ready to beg for mercy...Rufus Collins is made to stand around, trying to get a word in edgewise...It's a waste of a fine actor." Full Review
"When a character in a play so shreds your nerves that you find yourself itching to throttle him within the first 15 minutes, you can be sure an exhilarating night at the theater is not on the menu. When said character is one of only two in the play, the sole item on the menu is likely to be unrelieved agony. This, unfortunately, sums up my experience at John McManus’s comedy...Despite two excellent performances, the play grinds on for 90 minutes, sustained by what is essentially a single joke." Full Review
See it if you enjoy watching Peter Maloney, one of our finer actors. Also, if you like looking at an interesting set design.
Don't see it if you have a low level of tolerance for yelling and screaming in a small space. If you don't like an overstuffed one-acter.
See it if You are an Irish Rep subscriber and can't foist your tickets off on anyone else
Don't see it if You love Irish plays with endearing characters and rich language. Disappointing one-note performances by both actors who deserve better.
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