Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

Opening Night

By T.S Kerrigan
American Reporter Theater Critic
July 10, 2006

Printable version of this story

"An Irish Girl's Journey." Written by Marian Tomas Griffin. Directed by Margaret O'Carroll. Starring Marian Tomas Griffin. Los Angeles. The Celtic Arts Centre, 4843 Laurel Canyon Blvd. Fri-Sat, 8 Running Time: 2 hours. $30. 818-784-3805. Through August 22.

LOS ANGELES -- Marian Tomas Griffin, a girl from Killa, County Mayo born in New York, acts, sings, and plays guitar in this solo show that is American in format and quintessentially Irish in subject matter. It is a candid, humorous rite of passage for an American audience with some sophistication in things Irish.

Solo shows are basically of two types. There is the historical, "Belle of Amherst" variety, and then there is the actor's biographical foray (in its most extreme form a kind of "I'm Putting my Act Together and Taking it Out on You"). While Griffin's play is an example of the second type, happily she eschews ego for humor, much of it directed at herself.

Oh, to be sure, there is a cliche here and there about being Irish and a Roman Catholic that seems to make American audiences more comfortable, but there is mostly a lot of originality in this show that will leave you sympathetic to Ms. Griffin and wondering, perhaps, whether there is anything much left of the Irish culture she knew as a girl in the shadow of the Celtic Tiger Economy of recent years.

There is, however, no such shadow over this essentially upbeat show.

The songs are beautifully rendered and slip seamlessly into the narrative. She even manages to make that old sentimental chestnut "Danny Boy" come to life. The highlights of the narrative lies in her clever mimicking of the Irish characters she grew up with in County Mayo. She is an excellent mimic.

Though the play begins in Ireland, in midstream the action shifts to New York, where Ms. Griffin wields her satirical scalpel effortlessly and with hilarious results.

Here mimicry of New York types is as good as it was in the Irish party of the show. Again there is the occasional cliche, but the actress transcends all with her engaging way and beautiful voice. The confidence she has in herself and her material is sustained during the two hours sans intermission that she is before us.

Directing a single actor can require as much of a director as handling an entire cast. Margaret O'Carroll, who has had her finger in a number of theatrical pies of late, comes through with just the right balance here, keeping Ms Griffin in focus throughout.

Places like the Celtic Arts Centre can use more original work of this kind. They are lucky to have a show with as much verve as this one.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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