Archikulture Digest

Flight of the Earls

Flight of the Earls

By Christopher Humble

Directed by John DiDonna

Starring Stephen Lima, Chris Prueitt, Marty Stonerock and Becky Eck

Lima/Stonerock Productions, The Empty Spaces Theatre Co(llaboration), DiDonna Productions

The Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando FL</strong>

Really, the only way to win a war is with overwhelming force. Otherwise, you’re stuck negotiating or taking pot shots at each other until your great-great-grandchildren forget what the original issues was in the first. That’s the situation in Northern Ireland, and the brothers Michael (Lima) and Ian Earl (Prueitt) are kingpins of the Irish Republican Army. They smuggle weapons and bribe jailers and build nail bombs when they aren’t fixing trucks or digging secret underground bunkers. Ian is the slightly more ruthless one; he’s ready to send unsuspecting relatives off to blow up a random bus stop while Michael struggles against the love of a good but deluded woman. That would be peace loving Bridgette, (Eck) she wants them to move to America and away from the war but Michael exclaims sarcastically: “That’s a fine thing, to be an Irishman in America!” I checked a week or two ago, I think he’d have plenty of company at that bar near Rollins. Things are tense but under control until missing brother Keith (John Bateman) appears, he’s more qualified to be cannon fodder than a cover revolutionary and he blows everyone’s cover. Body parts are about to fly.

The blood and violence isn’t nicely hidden behind the arras in this gut wrenching show. Here’s an example: mother Kate (Stonerock) brings the war in County Tyrone into her dining room – she’s 110% Irish and not afraid to shoot anyone. She also gives this neutronium heavy show a bit of levity; she got through most of a bottle of whiskey “One Small One” at a time and bemoans “This family used to drink together” when dinner plans fall through. Becky Eck is what passes for a calm center, she’s strong and principled and as rugged as her sensible wool skirt. While Pruitt is cold hearted and blood thirsty, Lima takes the prize for intensity – no one does intense like Stephen Lima. Under DiDonna’s direction he carefully balances his demonic visage, bloody beliefs and somehow still keeps you believing he really does love Bridgette.

While Tommy Mangieri’s set doesn’t actually smell of Bushmill’s or peat smoke, it looks homey and ancient and just the sort of place people in the kitchen can hear critical plot points going on in the dining room. Just as you would expect, this show pulls no punches as it plows through the trade people make between family loyalty and deeply held causes. The difference between nail bombing a police station or driving a vest full of explosives into a NATO convoy is simply one of time and place. There’s an element of desperation, and maybe negotiations can’t begin until all the hot heads have finished killing themselves.

For more information on Empty Spaces Theater Company, visit http://www.emptyspacestheatre.org


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