Irish Repertory Theatre Mounts The Smuggler

One Man in a Smashing Play

By: - Feb 04, 2023

No small theatrical space is better used than the Irish Repertory Theatre's W. Scott Lucas Studio. The stage fills the room, inviting the audience in. Selections are always apt. Ronan Noone’s  The Smuggler is no exception.

It is a one man piece, played brilliantly by Michael Mellamphy. He is Tim Finnegan, an Irish immigrant who comes with the traditional goals of hard work and success.   He lands up on an island off the coast of Massachusetts, the kind of island to which Governor Greg Abbott of Texas recently sent newly-minted immigrants.  

Tim Finnegan welcomes us to his place, a local bar. He can create each of the multiple characters he speaks for with a feature, a movement, or a change of vocal tone. 

Things turn sour, particularly at the hands of an immigrant from Latin America who seduces Tim's cop brother-in-law. She is of the new type we find in New York. They overstay their visas, fabricate accidents, get on Social Security disability and shimmy into subsidized housing. Tim turns to crimes like hers when he loses his job.  

Immigration is a complex issue and one to which attention must be paid. Dreams have always varied. Yet for a long time they were centered on hard work and success in a New World.  Today they are not. When 800,000 non-citizen voters are added to the election rolls in New York City, at the expense of citizens, because they have to have special ballots created since the state and federal government do not allow them to vote, resentment escalates. Yet we need workers to care for the ever-increasing elderly population  and also to deliver food and packages, central to the new economy.

Don’t think for a moment that this production is glum.  Set design by Ann Beyerdorfer, dramatically appropriate lighting by Michael O’Connor (even using black), and sound design by Liam Bellman Sharpe, work together to make the play sizzle.  Direction by Conor Bagley keeps the drama moving, even when one of the principal characters is chained to a sycamore tree.  

The Irish Repertory Theatre is rightly known for its consistently first class offerings. The Smuggler follows in this tradition.