How It’s New York: Dirty Money is set in Woodside, Queens and was performed in a pub on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
John Kearns reviews Dirty Money at The Plays Upstairs:
“Dirty Money takes the audience on a riveting, wild ride through the plundered laundromat, a house raided by police, and the unforeseen place where money is found for for a new life in America.”
The run of Dirty Money at Ryan’s Daughter ends on the night of Saturday, September 15th. To keep up with the productions at Plays Upstairs, “Like” the Ryan’s Daughter Facebook page.
The Plays Upstairs productions at Ryan’s Daughter bar at 350 East 85th Street (at 1st Avenue) are so Irish and New York that it is impossible to capture these qualities in blurbs like those above. The simplicity and purity of Plays Upstairs’ productions, relying on words and acting and very little in the way of lights or sound or sets, carry on the ancient Irish (and human) tradition of storytelling. The productions in the upstairs party room of the Upper East Side pub also reflect a real New York attitude: let’s not wait for permission or acceptance to perform our work Let’s do it ourselves!
Dirty Money is part of a series of four one-act plays written by Nolan, who has worked as an actor, playwright, and director for 32 years. Mellamphy, who frequently appears on stage at the Irish RepertoryTheatre (The Hairy Ape, The Field, Philadelphia, Here I Come), was nominated for a Best Actor award in the 2010 1st Irish Festival for his role in The Prophet of Monto, which he also performed in Dublin in 2011.
From the start, Dirty Money has the audience guessing. Whereas its setting — with its New York payphone, construction tarps and netting, and discarded shopping cart — is distinctly American and New York, its accent is decidedly North Side of Dublin. Our narrator, Ger, played with passion, conviction, and wonderful comic timing by Mellamphy, tells us he is waiting by the “perfect payphone” for a call from a woman.
But for the first five minutes we are in the dark as to who the woman is or why this Dubliner is on this rough-looking street in Woodside. For the next 45 minutes, Ger fills us in on how he found himself in these straits, unraveling a twisting tale about meeting the girl he’s expecting to call and getting the money for a new life in Queens.
We learn that the woman has kept our man waiting for a long time. He had started out with 18 cigarettes, has smoked one per hour, and now finds them all gone. Ger can’t understand why the woman can’t simply call him as he had asked.
Back in Dublin, Ger suddenly announces to his father that he is leaving and going to England, though his true destination is where we find him. He buys a plane ticket and saves it in his sock drawer for a departure time in May. But, what will Ger do for money once he gets to New York? He decides to pull a “job,” a robbery in an unexpected place where he wouldn’t “step on any big toes,” as he might at a bank or liquor store. Ger determines that the dirty money he needs will come in the form of coins spent to clean clothes. He cases several laundromats until he finds the right one to victimize, then enlists is brother to help him with the planning.
Mellampy is hilarious portraying the negotiations between Ger and Yum Yum and Ger’s dealings with the gangster’s minions. Even Susan, the girlfriend he’s expecting to ring the payphone, comes across vividly as a woman who is at least two steps ahead of Ger as he schemes to give her a lift home on a rainy evening and ask her out.