Theatre ReviewsTom Williams


The cast of Moll

Directed by Robert Ayres

Produced by Shapeshifters Theatres

At the Irish American Heritage Center

Cute Irish kitchen sink comedy delivers wacky humor

My first visit to Shapeshifters Theatre, the resident theatre company at the Irish American Heritage Center in Albany Park, was a good time as Irish playwright John B. Keane’s Moll delivered enough comedy to satisfy. Keane’s kitchen sink comedy of manners deals with a small town Irish parish in the 1970’s that has a disaster on their hands–the rectory  housekeeper quit leaving the Canon (church pastor) and his two assistants without a cook/housekeeper. The three priests simply can’t cook not keep house so they recruit a woman with terrific experience running rectories.


From the day Moll (Elizabeth Ellis) started, Father Brest (Bill O’Neill), had an instant dislike for her. Father Loran, the younger priest gave Moll the benefit of the doubt since the Canon Father Pratt (Patrick Carton) found Moll most qualified. This zany comedy is very Irish and very Catholic. Moll quickly strokes the Canon my serving him large meals while almost starving the two other priests.

As the play develops, Moll maneuvers the Canon into a series of changes that drastically increase the poor parish’s finances thus allowing  the church’s roof to be repaired and the building of a new parish school. Moll advocates bingo as the main source of new money. She taps Father Brest–who hates bingo–as the coordinator of the game of chance. Moll sure has the Canon’s ear. Moll is a busybody, controlling and vindictive  soul bent on helping herself as much as her parish.

We see both priests deteriorating due to lack of enough food as this cute comedy move into a silly farce of priestly parish life. Bill O’Neill (Brest) and DustinSpence (Loran) produce some physical and over-the-top antics that garnered loads of laughs.  This sweet comedy has enough to satisfy those who love light Irish comedy. Maureen Kettle was fine as the crafty Moll. This show is fun.


Tom Williams

At the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N.Knox, Chicago, IL, call 773-282-7035, tickets $15,410 for IAHC members, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission.

One thought on “Moll

  • Mary Greene

    Dear Chicago Critic, PLEASE share this message with my dear, old friend, Robert Ayres. We worked together at the Kennedy School at Harvard many years ago, and both would hugely enjoy reconnecting. Thank you for this humanitarian service!! Gratefully, Mary Greene
    P.S. LUCKY Chicago! Robert’s a gem!!

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