Watching Outside Mullingar at Palm Beach Dramaworks, audiences might catch themselves physically straining for the hero and heroine to burst through their wounded psyches and join souls, as they are so obviously fated to do.
John Patrick Shanley’s unapologetically romantic comedy set in Irish farm country will easily seduce those with an open heart and may frustrate some who, in the words of Cher in Shanley’s filmMoonstruck, want to yell, “Snap out of it!” You have to feel sorry for the latter group.
The 2014 work melds two strains: depicting the yearning pain of lonely people hoping against hope for a love they barely dare dream of, and, second, the humor watching the folly of human beings awkwardly careening through a stony ground of pride and fear toward happiness.
With only four characters, the math onstage comes close guaranteeing the ending. But thanks to J. Barry Lewis’ skilled direction, you begin to wonder as foolish humans trip forward, stumble away and shear off to the side on their herky-jerky journey.
Granted, the plot and complications can feel a bit constructed at times (one crucial secret is simply never revealed). But this is theater and a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is part of the price of admission. If you can believe Hamlet wouldn’t kill Claudius in the chapel, or Batman can survive a grudge match with Superman, you can easily buy this.