I know it sounds a bit flaky (pun absolutely intended) but when we heard that there would be a new off-Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Tony Award-winning musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Barrow Street Theatre, Lynn and I could barely contain our excitement.
‘Ten years after a successful and critically acclaimed Broadway production, the Irish Repertory Theatre’s revival of Conor McPherson’s Shining City has very, very big shoes to fill — and to our delight, fill them they have, indeed.
Directed by Ciarán O’Reilly and starring Matthew Broderick, Billy Carter, Lisa Dwan, and James Russell, Shining City is a play that, when distilled to its essence, conveys a simple, unassuming ghost story — both figuratively and literally, though the figurative is much more compelling in this case. Staged largely in an office flat in Dublin and revealed primarily through a series of sessions between a patient and his therapist, it is a narrative wherein the apparition functions as metaphor for guilt over decisions made, actions taken, words spoken (and unspoken), injuries received and secrets harbored, and where hauntings are just the external manifestations of profound and debilitating regrets.
Standing in the small bend on Commerce Street in the West Village, waiting for the doors of the Cherry Lane Theatre to open, I take a quick glance around and note that Hasan Minhaj’s demographic is mostly what you’d expect: young and ethnic (myself included – well, definitely ethnic, young, not so much) . And unsurprisingly, he starts out his performance acknowledging the “brown people” in the audience. I cringe a little, fearing we’re in for a stale series of immigrant jokes that panders to a growing minority. Thankfully, it pulls out of that treacherous territory quickly.