Irish ayes

Killarney Sabbatical

Tara Brown pours a drink as Maggie Moran in Goodluck Macbeth’s production of <i>Killarney Sabbatical</i>.

Tara Brown pours a drink as Maggie Moran in Goodluck Macbeth’s production of Killarney Sabbatical.

Photo/Allison Young

Killarney Sabbatical will be at Goodluck Macbeth, 713 S. Virginia St., on May 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 at 7:30 p.m.; and May 18 at 3 p.m. $13. For tickets, call 322-3716 or visit
Rated 4.0

I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I think the closest I’ve ever felt to God was when I went to Ireland. My husband and I spent a two-week honeymoon there, and it’s the most spectacularly beautiful place I’ve ever seen. It’s the only place I’ve ever visited that was so breathtakingly lovely that it actually made me cry. And I think it’s a place that feels like home—it seeps into your heart and your bones, and becomes part of your soul.

It’s not just me that feels this way, either. Other people I know who have been to Ireland have expressed this feeling as well, this sense of having been changed by Ireland. This certainly was the case for Stacey Spain, whose original play, Killarney Sabbatical, is now making its world premiere on the stage at Reno’s Goodluck Macbeth Theatre Company.

Spain, whose “day job” is executive director of Sierra Arts Foundation, is the Goodluck Macbeth 2014 Playwright in Residence, and has spent several months developing this script in collaboration with GLM’s producing artistic director Chad Sweet and director Jamie Woodham, having come to them only with this idea: the sense of feeling drawn to and forever changed by Ireland, which she calls in her playwright’s note “that green homeland.”

Killarney Sabbatical certainly does explore this idea, but as it does so it tells the story of Charlotte “Charlie” Byrne, played by Rachel Lopez. Charlie is a professor at a prestigious Midwestern college who returns to a Killarney inn to conduct research for a book about Irish history, and to get to know the daughter she left behind there 20 years ago, when the girl was an infant. The girl, Maggie (played by Tara Brown), is now proprietor of the inn, along with her dad, Jamie Moran (Gary Cremeans), who has never told Maggie about the mother that left her behind, or the complicated circumstances that led him and Charlie to arrive at this particular arrangement 20 years ago.

The play, told through a series of flashbacks and character asides, explores the evolving relationship between Charlie and Jamie, from their first meeting 20 years in the past (played by Tara Brown and Robert Grant), when Charlie was an aspiring nun and Jamie a flirtatious poet, until the present day. Meanwhile, it addresses issues such as first love, the powerful influence mothers have on daughters, the nature of spirituality and the concept of home.

The script is brimming with refreshingly funny lines, as well as the delightful turns of phrase that are pure Ireland and which I’ve always found charming—things like “feckin’,” “shite” and sentences ending with “is it?” Adding to the air of authenticity were, I’m pleased to report, some decent Irish accents. Although in general I liked the actors, I particularly enjoyed Tara Brown in both of her roles, and Robert Grant made an appealing Jamie. The two together had chemistry enough to make a convincing couple. Rachel Lopez’s Charlie is somewhat abrasive, though in some ways this is appropriate for her character.

I found the ending frustrating, though. Without giving away any plot points, I felt the story ended too abruptly, with little resolved. Maybe that’s the mark of a good story—not feeling ready for it to end. But when the lights came up on the actors taking a bow, it seemed too soon, like I’d missed something. So although I genuinely enjoyed myself, I didn’t have a satisfying sense of closure and felt vexed a bit by it.

Nonetheless, it’s a show I enjoyed, that helped me to revisit a place that’s dear to my heart. And the fact that the play was locally born and raised seems to make it even more special.