The Glorious Uncertainty
Also see Sharon's review of Brooklyn Boy
The delightful comedy is the story of Gabriel, who owns a pub and small hotel. But what really matters to Gabriel is betting on horse racing. More specifically, Gabriel likes betting on sure things. The problem is, the only thing that's sure about Gabriel's wagers is that they'll lose. As played by Barry Lynch, Gabriel is something of a loveable loser. Sure, he's wagering away all of his daughter's dowry, but he means well and he's much more fun than his killjoy wife Julia, who wants to make him give up racing altogether. Kathleen M. Darcy's performance does little to endear the audience to Julia, although much of the blame can be attributed to a failure to communicate - her impenetrable accent makes many of her quick-spoken diatribes impossible to follow.
When the locals schedule their own horse race, in which two farmers face off in their "Grand National," Gabriel puts together a scheme that can't lose: he'll enter a horse, a nag really, into the race under an assumed name. He'll then spread rumors that the horse is certain to win. Having set himself up as a bookmaker for the race, he'll take wagers on the horse - then take that money and place a bet on one of the farmers' (the one that's sure to win). The nag will lose and he'll end up with a huge fortune, which he can then use to guarantee his daughter a good match.
There are, as you might imagine, a few problems, as everyone has ulterior motives. An Englishman staying in the hotel seems a little too eager to pose as the horse's owner. The horse's "trainer" is a former jockey who sees this race as a possible chance to get back into legitimate racing. Unbeknownst to Gabriel, his daughter has promised to marry whichever of the farmers wins the race. And, no matter how hard he spies, Gabriel can't determine which of the farmers is likely to win. Put it all together and Gabriel's sure thing becomes as uncertain as (horrors!) an honest race.
It's a sweet play with enough twists and turns to keep you involved, but the Victory Theatre's production doesn't quite do it justice. MacNamara's script isn't the meatiest thing that's ever come out of Ireland; it relies more on stock characters than anyone of great depth. But under Timothy Ford Hannon's direction, the cast has difficulty bringing what should be instantly recognizable characters to life. The two best performances come from Janine Eser as the headstrong daughter, a cheerful flirtatious lass, and Christopher Rydman, as the Englishman who appears a little too suave to not be hiding something. They bring The Glorious Uncertainty a little bit of the old-fashioned charm that should be more plentiful.
The Glorious Uncertainty runs at the Victory Theatre Center through October 31, 2004. For more information, visit www.thevictorytheatrecenter.org
The Victory Theatre Center & Black Emerald Productions present The Glorious Uncertainty. Written by Brinsley MacNamara; Directed by Timothy Ford Hannon. Produced by Tom Ormeny & Maria Gobetti. Set Design by Timothy Ford Hannon; Lighting Design by Tom Ormeny; Costume Design by Mary Beth Sterling; Graphic Design by Jennifer Logan; Original Music by Kenneth A. O'Malley.