"The Cripple of Inishmaan": Irish charm and magic

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What a wonderful mix of Irish charm and magic the Wild Irish Productions spun in the drizzle and fog of Fort Mason last Saturday night April 2l. It was the opening night for Martin McDonagh’s “The Cripple of Inishmaan” at the Magic Theater.

This is a difficult play to produce and do well, with the nuances and dark humor of Irish story telling based on the historical fact that a Hollywood producer came to a nearby island in l934 to make a documentary film. Cripple Billy, mysteriously crippled at birth and mocked for spending his time looking at cows, wants to try out for the movie to escape the poverty and hopelessness of his island home on Inishmaan.

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The cast of "The Cripple of Inishmaan"
Picture courtesy of Wilde Irish Productions

Eddie Fitzgerald gives a splendid performance as Cripple Billy, and the other actors and actresses deal with his declaration of audacity in ways that are comical, sad, and island Irish. Each character is well-crafted and believable -- Breda Courtney and Esther Mulligan as Cripple Billy’s widowed aunts, Howard Dillon as the town crier who always reports on three items of gossip and news, Bryn Elizan Harris as Slippy Helen the bumptious lady of the island, and Arthur Scappaticci as Babbybobby who comes off just as his name suggests. The result is a cohesive ensemble that comes together to produce a first rate performance.

The play is another tour de force for Breda Courtney, who hails from County Dublin. She is a 20-year veteran of little theater who performs miracles in producing these blooming events and keeping the troupe going. This time around, she got excellent assistance from her daughter, Stephanie Courtney-Foss, who made her first appearance as artistic director of Wilde Irish. And her son Christopher Courtney provided the set photos. What a good show: see it.

Shows: Tuesday April 24 through Saturday April 28, all starting at 8 p.m.

Sunday April 29, 7 p.m. Building D, Fort Mason Center. For tickets go to www.wildeirish.org.