The Keegan Theatre company’s New Island Project has found a refreshingly entertaining new play by an Irish playwright and is performing it at the 50-seat Theater on the Run on South Four Mile Run Drive near Shirlington.
"Love, Peace & Robbery" requires a cast of three but has many more characters than that. Keegan’s co-founder Eric Lucas plays Gary, an Irish man recently released from prison, and Matthew Keenan plays Darren, a younger man who is also fresh out of jail. Both struggle to find a way to resist the temptation to fall back into the life that led them to crime in the first place.
The third cast member is Bruce Rauscher and his role is listed in the program as "Cast of Thousands." At various times during the one and a half hour play he is a policeman, Gary’s wife, a street thug, Gary’s son and even Darren’s dog. One of the pleasures of the show is watching Rauscher create so many different characters clearly and cleanly without giving in to the temptation to make the evening into "The Bruce Rauscher Show." He could steal it easily but he seems to understand that each of the parts are supporting roles and support is what he does.
The focus of the play is on Gary and Darren’s struggle to re-enter life outside of prison. Gary is the more mature of the two, and as you might expect, Darren seems to succumb to the temptations of the street first. He proposes a one-time return to crime in order to get enough money to finance a fresh start. Gary resists but the pressures begin to get to him.
The play is by Liam Heylin, a newspaper reporter who covers the court beat for a paper in Ireland. He captures the sounds as well as the stories of the world he covers in this intriguing piece.
Keegan’s production is directed with clarity and attention to enunciation, which is so important in a brogue-filled Irish piece by Kerry Waters Lucas. There’s no set involved. Instead, three chairs are moved about to create different spaces in which the events transpire.
Keegan first presented the production in New York City during this fall’s First Irish Festival. That marked the play’s U.S. premiere. Now it has brought the show home, giving local audiences a chance to enjoy what New Yorkers enjoyed in September.
<i>Brad Hathaway reviews theater in Virginia, Washington and Maryland as well as Broadway, and edits Potomac Stages, (www.PotomacStages.com). He can be reached at Brad@PotomacStages.com.</i>