Greater Boston Stage Company chose the perfect time to debut Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Nestled right through St. Patrick’s Day during Lent (for Catholics), this engaging family comedy delves into the lives of the quirky lower middle class Irish-Catholic O’Shea family during a chaotic and pivotal week in their lives in the 1970s. It’s a memory play…with a few amusing twists.
A semi-autobiographical play written by Katie Forgette and directed by Weylin Symes, Greater Boston Stage Company presents Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help virtually and at Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, Massachusetts through March 20. The show is 1 hour and 45 minutes with intermission and recommended for children ages 13 and up. Click here for more information and tickets.
It is fascinating how memories work when they are retold, recalled, and recollected. A fuzzy little detail here and a little change there may make a big difference. Some of the production’s characters are a bit over the top, but so was the 70s. Every detail of this show rewinds the clock to a simpler time before the internet, cell phones, and other technological distractions took over. Deirdre Gerrard pulls together a wonderfully nostalgic and mismatched array of 70s attire from corduroy to bold patterns to star-studded bellbottoms.
Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help is full of candidness, warmth, and quick pacing much due to the cast’s authentic and believable chemistry as a relatable, flawed, and dysfunctional family. Tempers flare, judgments are passed often, and the O’Shea family is set in their routines within a meticulously-detailed and functioning wood paneled kitchen plucked straight out of the 70s. From an afghan blanket on a chair to knickknacks on shelves to photos and notes smattered on a corkboard to greenery gathering in a kitchen window, set designer Shelley Barish’s remarkable blast from the past kitchen lies in the details.
A bossy grandmother, a cheapskate father that works too hard, an exhausted but nurturing mother, a shoot-from-the-hip aunt, and an impressionable daughter all vie for the spotlight breaking the 4th wall and well aware they are in the play. It flows more like a slice-of-life documentary with most characters eager to speak to the “camera.”
At the center of this play is somewhat reliable narrator Autumn Blazon-Brown as adorably spunky women’s-lib teenager Linda O’Shea. Smart yet adventurous, Blazon-Brown shows charming charisma as Linda who, in a moment of frustration, is obnoxious to her impressionable sister Becky to the chagrin of those around her including intimidating Fr. Lovett portrayed with self-righteous glee by Barlow Adamson. Chaos ensues.
Adamson is an apt comedian with a wealth of opportunities to show off his dynamic skills during this production. Vin Vega portrays film-obsessed and imaginative Becky who seems the most sensible among this amiable cast and often along for the ride within the O’Shea high jinx. Amy Barker portrays a relatable every mom as exhausted but nurturing matriarch Jo O’Shea, but Maureen Keiller, a familiar face having delivered solid past performances in Boston such as in Between Riverside and Crazy, Admissions and The Women, is a gem as Theresa “Terri” Carmichael. Wisecracking, bold, and often blunt, Keiller shows under Terri’s complicated and tough façade is a loneliness and vulnerability with a fierce loyalty to her family. A better aunt you will never find.
Greater Boston Stage Company presents Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help virtually and at Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, Massachusetts through March 20. The show is 1 hour and 45 minutes with intermission and recommended for children ages 13 and up. Click here for more information and tickets.