This is a muddle from start to finish, laced with clichéd language and performances. The “action” shifts between a California motel room and a hotel room in Reno, Nevada, centering around Kate Maguire, a hugely successful playwright. At least we’re told she’s successful: how anyone who says things like “you have to write what is cut into your own heart” can write well beats me. Kate isn’t the only caricature in this work: Richard, the too-naïve- to- be- true A/C repair man who yearns to write plays and struggles with being a seminarian studying for the priesthood, and Rich’s father/Kate’s agent/Kate’s long-time squeeze and—hold on, it’s true—an actual Father complete with brown robe and rope belt are equally one dimensional. Kate is played by attractive Leenya Rideout; Rich by John Zdrojeski and the others by Jay Russell. Emily Juliette Murphy handles small roles as Kate’s mother, a motel clerk and a waiter.
The nicely slimmed-down production of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever at Irish Rep is a tidy delight. The show has been revived numerous times since originally opening in the fall of 1965; along the way it has lost several songs (with good reason—they were terrible) and had several interpretations including one by The Vineyard Theater at Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theater that changed the female lead to a gay male. Other versions have added or subtracted characters who weren’t central to what has to be called the “story line.”
Margery Kempe, as portrayed by the excellent, feisty Andrus Nichols, would indeed try the patience of a saint. Nichols, part of the splendid cast of The Saintliness of Margery Kempe, plays the title role which is loosely based on the real fourteenth century woman who wrote what is often considered the first English language autobiography, abandons her husband and six children, (the real Kempe had fourteen), to find herself in the larger world.