Stephen Schmitz and Vanessa Dinning in "Outside Mullingar." Photograph by Ken Jacques
Valentine’s Day is a couple of weeks away, but love is already in bloom at Scripps Ranch Theatre, which is staging a quaint and shamelessly romantic production of John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar. This four-person play set on adjoining cattle and sheep farms in the Irish countryside was presented two years ago by the San Diego Rep, and the Scripps Ranch version, a co-production with Oceanside Theatre Company and directed by Kathy Brombacher, is a reiteration of the 2014 love story’s charm. It’s also a reminder of the script’s fatal flaw in the motivation department. No spoilers forthcoming.
Nevertheless, the Scripps Ranch cast fronted by Stephen Schmitz (so memorable in last year’s Falling from InnerMission Productions) and Vanessa Dinning as two lonely neighbors approaching middle age is ideally suited to the prevailing sentimentality, right down to spot-on Irish accents. (Jim Chovik and Dagmar Fields round complement this pair as two oldsters on the doorstep of death.) When Dinning and Schmitz’s characters eventually connect, hankies will come in handy. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 1/31/18.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.