On March 17th, the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts center continued their tribute to Women’s History Month. In celebration of the holiday, they incorporated a reference to St. Patrick’s Day. The group performed a reading of Irish playwright Lady Gregory’s 1904 comical take on small-town life Spreading the News.
Following a conversation with Bartley Fallon (played by Thom Boyer), Jack Smith (Will Horner) left his hayfork at the local fair. Fallon attempted to return it to him. This act served as the catalyst for a series of misunderstandings and misstatements. Gossiping townspeople embellished the story into a tale of adultery, murder and an escape to America. These events culminated with a ghost sighting.
While the rumor germinated, an English Magistrate (Abraham Ntonya) investigated the community. He believed the townspeople guilty of committing crimes. The lack of any corroborating proof encouraged him to look even harder. Upon hearing the story of Smith’s “murder,” he sought Fallon. The paucity of evidence or even a body didn’t deter him.
The company gave the show an Irish vibe. Donned in green attire, the performers spoke in front of a rustic backdrop. Stone buildings and a verdant countryside created the illusion of a Hibernian village. All spoke with an Irish brogue.
The actors gave witty and delightful performances. Attired in his tweed flat hat, Thom Boyer captured Bartley Fallon in the many states of “misfortune.” Anna Paone’s wide eyed facial expressions and emphatic diction made Mrs. Fallon a pleasure to watch. Abraham Ntonya’s exaggerated gestures and pretentious delivery captured the Magistrate’s buffoonery. Greg Northam’s low-keyed portrayal of police officer Jo Muldoon contrasted well with him. Will Horner enhanced the show with a musical number. He performed a strong a capella rendition of “The Red-Haired Man’s Wife.”
Nick Endo, Anil Joseph, Laura Paone, Jyoti Presswala and Nathaniel Tomb played the catty townspeople. In keeping with the evening’s theme, Catherine LaMoreaux read the stage directions in an Irish accent.
Rife with stock characters and predictable outcomes, Lady Gregory’s work still gives audiences a good evening’s entertainment. Dragonfly’s Artistic Associate Anna Paone noted that the show “has fallen somewhat out of favor in recent times.” The company’s performance may be one of the rare chances for theatrical fans to experience it. Those who missed the original can still watch the replay on Dragonfly’s Facebook page.
The Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center will continue with its Wednesday night readings on March 24th. It will broadcast performances of original plays crafted by New Jersey playwrights on Zoom at Facebook at 8:00 PM EST.