Hoarse Raven Theatre's MOLLY SWEENEY by Brian Friel

Molly Sweeney
Directed by Michael Fera
Vancouver Little Theatre
3102 Main St.
November 26-December 13
Tickets: 258-4079

by Roxanne Davies

With a haunting Celtic melody to accompany it, the play MollySweeney presents a deceptively simple tale about the quest to restore the vision of middle-aged Molly Sweeney, blind since infancy. We hear the story from the perspective of Molly, her husband Frank and the surgeon Dr Paddy Rice, as three monologues woven together to form a powerful drama underscoring the connection between vision and understanding. As one of the actors remarks "We aren't given our world. We make our world through our senses".

Set in Donegal, Ireland and based on the case study "To See or Not to See" by world-renowned physician and author Oliver Sachs (Awakenings), this Canadian premiere highlights the talent of Tanja Dixon-Warren (co-artistic director of Hoarse Raven Theatre and Tony n' Tina's Wedding, Belle of Amherst, Teechers), Ian Morton (Greek, Mill Fire) and Marek Weidman (The Heiress, Pintauro's Cafe).

Director Michael Fera (Tony n' Tina's Wedding, MacBeth, Life After Hockey) employs a light directorial touch as he relies on the talent of the actors to carry the story on the strength of their words alone, since, aside from Molly dancing a jig while still sitting in her chair, the actors remain seated throughout the entire play. Designer Andrea Hughes has created a minimalist stage setting which acts as a counterpoint for this beautifully written two-act play.

Each of the characters has a personal sense of the situation. Molly wants an excursion into the world of sight, her cause-loving husband takes on the challenge as he has others in the past, while the alcoholic, morose but once famous eye surgeon sees an opportunity to restore his reputation if he restores Molly's sight.

Dixon-Warren's obvious talent shines under the direction of Fera, who besides being her co- director at Hoarse Raven, is also her husband. She enfolds us into her blind world by her lilting and traditional Irish story-telling style. Ian Morton plays Molly's husband whose misadventures have included whales, goats and now, the innocent Molly. Marek Wiedman is the drink-sodden eye surgeon who loses his wife, his reputation and finds himself exiled to a country hospital. In chilling detail he explains how Molly will be his ticket back to recognition amongst his peers.

"Trust me, you aren't missin alot", Molly's dad says to his blind child. Miss this play, Molly Sweeney, and you miss the opportunity to learn this lesson --one can be blind and understand, see and yet not understand.