‘Scenes From an Adultery’ may leave you cold
WATERTOWN — The playwright Ronan Noone, a native of Ireland who lives in Weymouth now and is an American citizen, says that he while he considers himself an American writer, in some ways he still has a foot back on the Ould Sod.
That was probably behind his decision to stage his new play, “Scenes From an Adultery,” now having its world premiere production at the New Repertory Theatre, in England.
Noone wrote the piece as part of the New Repertory Theatre’s Next Voices Fellowship Program. In its present form, it only occasionally catches fire.
The cast of three actors were all born overseas — Irishman Ciaran Crawford, Welshman Peter Stray, and Edinburgh native Leda Uberbacher — assuring the accents are correct, and they are comfortable with the tempo and cadence of the dialogue and the tone of the conversations, many of which take place in a pub and are free-wheeling and often bawdy.
The pub scenes also detail the complex relationships men have with each other — especially when it comes to things they wouldn’t want their wives or girlfriends to know.
Noone’s years working as a bartender in Martha’s Vineyard came in handy for the conversations that take place in a pub, and he has a keen ear for type and tenor of conversations that take place there.
Crawford is Gasper, who’s been lucky with the ladies for most of his life but is entering middle age, and he and his long-time friend Tony, played by Stray, meet weekly in a pub or in Tony’s home, which he shares with wife Lisa, played by Uderbacher.
Often, the talk has to do with sex — say, the penis size of a friend, “Phil The Squid,” whose daughter is having an affair with Gasper. Or it could be sexually-tinged gossip about a never-seen couple, Dean and Corinne.
The gossip is juicy at that, the kind of gossip we men accuse women of lusting after but for which we seem to have a keen appetite also. Lisa seems interested — almost too interested, since she is a friend of Corinne’s — and decides to get personally involved.
Conversations that take place over weeks and then months about Dean and Corinne and what they might or might not be doing finally become of a toxic nature, inevitably bleeding over into the characters’ lives.
Sides are taken over who is right or wrong, who should be believed or not believed, and attitudes are hardened.
Gasper is often the provocateur, Tony most frenetic and animated, especially when he goes off as events begin to turn against him.
The tension increases, until suddenly violence enters the picture. Given the characters and their portrayal up to that time, it is disconcerting, jarring, off-putting, and I’m not really sure why it’s there.
Director Bridget Kathleen O’Leary and Noone appear to be on the same stage in the presentation and pacing; I’m wondering if there was ever discussion about the violent incident and its placement.
Yes, there will be adultery committed, but by the time it happens, it’s almost the least of the characters’ worries, especially for a devastated Tony.
Every work stands on its own, and “Scenes From an Adultery” is sharper, edgier, more free-wheeling than Noone’s recent other world premiere, “The Second Girl” at the Huntington Theatre, or past pieces such as “Brendan.”
The test is whether we leave “Scenes From an Adultery” really caring and being emotionally invested in these characters, what they’ve gone through and the situations they find themselves in. You may find it just leaves you cold.
The New Repertory Theatre production of Ronan Noone’s “Scenes From an Adultery.” Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary Set, Janie E. Howland. Costumes, Molly Trainer. Lights, Christopher Brusberg. Sound, David Remedios. At the Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown. Through May 17. http://www.newrep.org