“Crackskull Row” at Origin’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival

How it’s New York: Written by New York based playwright and author Honor Molloy and performed as part of Origin Theatre Company’s 1st Irish Festival 2016 in New York City
How it’s Irish: Set in Dublin in 1999
Terry Donnelly & Colin Lane (photo by Michael Bonasio)

Terry Donnelly & Colin Lane (photo by Michael Bonasio)

The rough-hewn walls, threadbare curtains and dilapidated leather sofa set the stage for an intense slice of Dublin life in Honor Molloy‘s play “Crackskull Row”.  The show opens with the long absent son/narrator Rasher Moorrigan (played by John Charles McLaughlin) giving exposition on the state of the family and the addled and fragile remains of his mother that we are about to meet.

Terry Donnelly stars as Masher, the mother of the piece, pining for bygone days, lost love and absent children.  She’s worn down to a nub of herself and hides everything she needs within the confines of the couch where she sits, sleeps, and eats.  A hardscrabble woman who was a bit of a “dolly” in her day, she imagines her daughter (played by Gina Costigan) doting on her and her absent son (played by Colin Lane/John Charles McLaughlin) fulfilling her desires and fuelling her frustrations.

This play attacks your senses and sensibility with both barrels and it’s hard to tell at times what is real and what is not.  A daughter appears, but is she real?  There seems to be a strange relationship between the mother and son.  How did the long-dead father really die?  And why has Rasher come back?

Terry Donnelly gives a fiery and forlorn performance as Masher, and Gina Costigan is almost elfen as the daughter and flirty and ruthless as the dancehall Dolly (Masher in her younger days)

John Charles McLaughlin, Colin Lane & Gina Costigan (photo by Michael Bonasio)

John Charles McLaughlin, Colin Lane & Gina Costigan (photo by Michael Bonasio)


John Charles McLaughlin is menacing and commanding as the older Rasher returning to enact his revenge. Colin Lane as the young Rasher gives a glimpse inside the boy driven to desperation by his absent abusive dad and misguided mother.

Although the show has already closed, I hope that there will be an occasion for it to be brought back so that director Kira Simring‘s great work making these characters leap from Honor’s pen can befuddle and surprise many audiences to come.

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Copyright 2016 New York Irish Arts