the 3 irish widows versus the rest of the world
nytheatre.com review by Sarah Whalen
January 6, 2010
"In a land before internet," begins writer/performer Ed Malone, "there stood trees and radio...yes, radio! And there were also three women...real women...real Irish women." And thus begins the frantic, hilarious, and often troubling account of the 3 irish widows versus the rest of the world. These three Irish women, we soon find out, are the playwright's mother Maura and his two aunts, the sexy sister Margaret and buck-toothed Breda, who have spent their lives in Cork, the rebel county of Ireland, cooking steak for their husbands and "popping out" babies.
One by one, the women are widowed, and instead of spending too much time mourning, they use their new-found sense of freedom to shop, travel, and look for love again. The ladies join together, and embark on a journey to Spain, then New York, and then India in search of a more romantic and glamorous place than "shitty ol' Ireland." The ladies soon learn that while "freedom" may lead to men and money, it can quickly become a disappointment.
As heartbreaking as the story is in the end, I found myself in hysterics throughout Malone's entire performance. Like a true Irish Catholic, he masks discussions of death, sex, and greed under his quick wit, and only sometimes does he explore the depth and severity of his own disappointment, sadness, and disgust. And of course, in the same guilt-ridden Irish Catholic fashion, Malone's deeply revealing moments are quickly followed by a hearty dose of self-deprecating sarcasm.
Malone's performance is buoyant, exciting, and extraordinarily energetic. He is a curly-haired Irishman who stands well over six feet tall and appears larger than life in the small performance space at Stage Left Studio. Towards the beginning of his performance, I was nervous that he was lacking some control over his body, almost seeming potentially dangerous—such a large man in such a small, delicate space. But, I quickly realized that every movement Malone makes is carefully calculated and well contained, and it's very impressive, considering the driving speed with which he delivers his performance. He speaks quickly, sings loudly and manages to maintain his composure and energy for the 75-minute performance.
I must admit, I have a sort of personal love affair with Ireland and all things Irish. I'm one of those Irish Americans who does whatever she can to feel closer to the Motherland. Malone's story reminded me a lot of my family, and helped me reminisce about my own time spent in Ireland and all of the people I met along the way. He revealed so much about the Irish spirit and I really found myself wanting to hear more and more as the play continued. If I were not such an Irish "wannabe," I don't know if this play would have had such an effect on me. The humor digs at the Irish mindset while the more reflective moments are weighted with Irish guilt. It takes a certain level of familiarity with Irish culture to understand entirely; I certainly didn't catch everything Malone was referencing. But, it's enjoyable nonetheless. Malone's energy is something to see and his lilting accent is something to hear. If you're an Irish American who finds yourself craving more Ireland in America, do yourself a favor and see this play.