By Charles Pike
Directed by Scott Vehill
Stage version of John Ford’s 1935 film has its moments
Playwright Charles Pike’s homage to legendary director John Ford’s film about Ireland – The Informer – won several Oscars including “Best Picture” and “Best Actor” for Victor McLaglen as the main character, Gippo Nolan. Veteran actor Turk Muller plays Gippo in a stirring performance filled with a richly authentic Irish brogue and a truthful depiction of a guilt-ridden drunkard. Muller has the blarney, the alcoholic attributes and the bewildering realization that his 30 years in the IRA has gotten him nothing–not even a place to sleep. It is 1922 and the Irish Rebellion is in full swing.
He comes to the desperate realization that he’ll never be able to migrate with his girlfriend to America due to a severe lack of funds. Katie (Mary Marro), Gippo’s girl, is a streetwalker with whom Gippo can’t stand to see working the trade yet they need her earnings to survive.
In desperation, Gippo informs to the British the location of wanted IRA leader, Frankie McPhillip (Paul Carr) for 20 Pounds Sterling–the exact cost of passage for the couple to the USA. But Gippo has a super guilt trip about McPhillip’s death by the Black’n-Tans and he goes on a drinking spree that has the IRA folks wondering where Gippo got all the cash he is throwing around. Turk Muller was a force of nature as the ignorant, dim-witted brute. Muller carries the 85 minute show. The ensemble was shaky with poor brogues and unconvincing acting.
Turk Muller’s performance is the only bright spot in this under written saga. I craved more story, more atmosphere despite the nice use of dark shadows. The Informer is definitely for lover’s of Irish tales of “The Troubles.”
At Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave, Chicago, IL, call 773-539-7838, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 3 pm, running time is 85 minutes with intermission, through April 18, 2010