MUST SEETheatre ReviewsTom Williams


By Abbie Spallen

Directed by Karen Kessler

At A Red Orchid Theatre

Hard-edged contemporary Irish drama has strong dark comic elements

A Red Orchid Theatre, an Equity troupe, has a history of mounting gritty dramatic works with strong acting. Their latest, Pumpgirl by Irish playwright postcard front01Abbie Spallen, is an edgy contemporary work of Irish storytelling. Pumpgirl is presented in intersecting monologues deftly spoken with authentic Irish brogues by the three person cast. Spallen is a contemporary Irish playwright with a talent for character development and richly gritty dialogue filled with distinct self-deprecating dry Irish humor.

Set in Ireland near the border with Northern Ireland, we meet the tom-boy pumpgirl (Grace Rex) who is in love and having sex with Hammy (Lawrence Grimm), an amateur race car driver who is married to Sinead (Kirsten Fitzgerald). This is a funny series of monologues wherein each member of the triangle has their say. Hammy is a bad boy totally out of control whose life consists of sex with Pumpgirl or any other female he can find in his rural Irish village. Sinead is the sex-starved mother bored with her life. Pumpgirl loves having sex with Mammy. All three live lives of despair and unfulfilled expectations. Their lives are fueled by drink, dirty love and the shattering realization that they are trapped in an inescapable rut.


This engaging dark comedy has an unsentimental twist, raw sensuality with a convincing honesty that packs an emotional punch. Kirsten Fitzgerald and Lawrence Grimm are outstanding. Grace Rex exudes a girlish charm and once show speaks louder and slows down her speech, she’ll be even better. Pumpgirl is a stark realistic look at how love is sometime blind and how often are lives filled with misery that makes us desperate to find purpose and meaning in our lives. Spallen’s talent abounds with her droll humor and splendid language. This is enticing monologue-driven storytelling in the finest Irish tradition.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells Street, Chicago, IL, Call 312-943-8722, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, Sunday matinees April 26 & May 3 at 3 pm, running time is 1 hour, 50 minutes with intermission.

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