Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The Smuggler

This afternoon, I saw a matinee of The Smuggler, a one-man verse drama by Ronán Noone which the author has dubbed "a thriller in rhyme" and is currently playing at Irish Repertory Theatre.

Noone does not perform the piece. Instead, his wily protagonist Tim Finnegan is played by Michael Mellamphy, who has previously appeared in a number of Irish Rep productions, including Sean O'Casey's The Shadow of a Gunman and Juno and the Paycock.

Finnegan is a hapless and mostly harmless denizen of Cape Cod who after encountering criminals smuggling undocumented immigrants starts down a dark journey that resembles that of Walter White in the first season of Breaking Bad... presuming that the the first season of Breaking Bad had been written in rhyme.

Noone's verse is clever (particularly when coming up with some of the naughtier rhymes). That, combined with the play's mild production demands and timely subject matter, has helped to get the piece performed at numerous theatres lately, including Urbanite in Sarasota, Florida. However, the play is steeped in the locality of Cape Cod, and Ann Beyersdorfer's set successfully captures a sense of place.

Audience members find themselves sitting in a variety of wooden chairs they might encounter in a typical New England Pub, and a few lucky playgoers even get to sit at pub tables onstage and be served drinks by Mellamphy.

Conor Bagley ably directs this entertaining production, which officially opens tomorrow. Some performances are already sold out, so get your tickets now.