Click here to enlarge
Greg Mullavey, Charlie Hudson III, Gordon Stanley, Ron Crawford, Evan Zes, & Stephen Payne in White Woman Street

[Google white woman street / irish repertory]

Notes on a Preview of White Woman Street

1. During intermission, I overheard the couple sitting next to me talking about the play. They both found it hard to follow. She said this was because the cast was in love with the language. “They’re hypnotized by the language” was how she put it. “They’re speaking the language instead of being it.”

2. I would agree that the first act is hard to follow. By contrast, the second act is riveting. I think the first act is hard to follow because the audience needs time to get used to the language. It is a poetic and stylized language, after all, and as with Shakespeare, if the audience is not familiar with the diction it can be hard to follow.

3. Assuming that this is a “problem,” how to solve it is another question. Maybe the opening monologue can be drawn out a bit, fed to the audience in doses, with longer pauses, and coupled with some physical business by Trooper O’Hara. He could be watering the horses, for instance. Or feeding them. The word “gorse” is key to that monologue and the audience is probably not familiar with the term. Though it is Irish gorse Trooper O’Hara is recalling, perhaps he could be offering a sprig of American gorse – if there is such a thing – to the horses. All I know is I spent too much time thinking about the word gorse during that monologue and missed what was being said.

4. Speaking of the “horses.” It is a bit jarring to the audience when in the middle of act one the cast mounts up and "rides" them. I heard some giggling in fact. Having Trooper O’Hara watering the horses during his opening monologue might mitigate this later jarring effect by preparing the audience for the convention. I for one thought Trooper Harris was speaking beside a saddle and harness draped over some sort of stand. I didn’t know these chairs were “horses” until they mounted up later. Perhaps the men could put the bridles on too after waking up. This might help prepare for the illusion. Horses are not left overnight with bridles on, anyway.

5. The second act made up for the problems of the first act and then some. The prayers at the chapel, the business with the barkeep, the song of Ohio, the secret from the past, all worked for me. I found the play ultimately very moving. Trooper O’Hara’s death and possible redemption, touching. The last line is haunting!

Comments Welcome