REVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Veil

By Conor McPherson.

Directed by Ann Kreitman.

Produced by Idle Muse Theatre Company.

At The Edge Theatre, Chicago.

Too strong Irish brogues and too fast talking doomed this Irish ghost story.

It took 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete Conor McPherson’s rambling The Veil. When it was finished I was stuck trying to figure out what took place on stage. Bad enough that McPherson drastically over wrote and over complicated this 1822 Irish country estate ghost story. Too many long scenes with confessional character traits to keep track of but all that was rendered mute by the speaking problems of many of the cast members. When Steppenwolf or Cout  or the Goodman do an Irish play, they hint at the  Irish accent or brogue. They do not over do the accent and they NEVER speak too fast and run their words together. But many non-Equity theatres, such as Idle Muse, pride themselves by using strong accents. That could be fine as long as the actors don’t speak too rapidly and run their words together like a Virginia tobacco auctioneer. This was the fatal blow that doomed The Veil.

Leslie Hull, as Mrs. Goulding, Ross Frawley, as Mr. Fingal, and Ashley Crowe, as Hannah were each guilty of talking too fast while running their words together with their Irish brogues. I simply couldn’t understand key plot twists and motivations in McPherson’s complex, wordy script. These players had important roles that I became baffled with.  If the above were only as articulate as Nathan Pease, as Chcrles Audelle, and Scott Olson as the Reverend Berkeley. They correctly spoke effectively and were able to communicate well. They slowed down so to be understood. Too bad the others didn’t do that.

I could probably state what the story was about from the many press notes but I approach a new show as if I was an audience member. By the way, I asked an audience member both at the intermission and after the show if he had trouble understanding some of the characters? The young man said he could not understand the woman and the estate manager (Ross Frawley) because they slurred their words and spoke too fast to be understood. He was most dissatisfied with the play. He asked me why they speak so fast? I told him to ask the director.

If I was to ask the director, I’d ask if they realize that most audience members will not understand players who speak extremely fast and run their words together, especially in a wordy period drama. I blame Allison Asher, the dialect coach, for getting almost everyone speaking with the same tone and timber and still letting them speak too fast. The idea is not to show off a cool accent but to communicate information and be understood. This major flaw has doomed The Veil. If you are going to have an audience sit through a 2 hour and 40 minute complex story, give them a chance to understand all the players.

Not Recommended.

Tom Williams.

At The Edge Theatre, 5451 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL. call 773-340-9438, tickets ($10 -$20 ), Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 40 minutes with intermission, through September 17, 2017.