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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Regaining her Sight

APT’s ‘Molly Sweeney’

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If a 41-year-old Irish woman, blind since the age of 10 months, can regain her sight, she should be overjoyed. But Molly Sweeney, the title character of author Brian Friel’s play of the same name, is not so sure. What she eventually sacrifices may be greater than any gains imaginable, and at far too dear a cost.

Molly Sweeney, the first American Players Theatre offering in the indoor Touchstone Theatre, may prove to be the company’s most poignant production this season. Sweeney’s surgery, a symbol of redemption for the two men involved in the procedure, does not lead to the expected results.

Director Kenneth Albers draws compelling performances for Friel’s three concurrent monologues that interlace to tell the story. The author’s unusual approach succeeds largely because Albers has three of the company’s brightest lights illuminating the narrative.

As Sweeney, Colleen Madden gives a lively, almost vivacious performance. Her blind woman is one who has made peace with her disability through a complex series of coping mechanisms and loves her life.

As Sweeney’s husband Frank, David Daniel embodies bravado and enthusiasm, a man-child who has yet to find his purpose in life and believes Molly’s surgery will open new vistas for them both. As Mr. Rice, the alcoholic physician who performs the surgery, Jonathan Smoots sees the promise of success as his own triumphal return to professional prominence.

But the three characters learn to be careful in what they wish for, and the result is an evening of compelling theater.

Molly Sweeney runs through Sept. 28. For tickets, visit americanplayers.org or call 608-588-2361.

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