That's the simple outline of Little Gem. The details, provided by Murphy, unveiled exquisitely by director Kimberly Senior's staging, and skillfully illuminated through enchanting performances, are pretty simple, too. In a way, these three women are not particularly exceptional; they are strong and good, but their challenges are similar to those faced by millions of people. That's why we can connect with themthey are real and, while they are just trying to cope with what they've been given, they find they do much better than just coping.
Senior has her actors individually presenting segments of their lives directly to the audience, one at a time, with little overlapping. It's not a unique approach, but it works quite well, as we quickly become anxious to hear what comes next. Nielsen, Walsh and Spear establsh character immediately, and the accents are spot-on (thank you Dialect Coach Don Wadsworth). Reading the slang dictionary will add color, but the context most often makes the intent clear.
This is not really a "women's play," any more than the works of other Irish playwrights featuring men are "men's plays." It's a story of dependence and independence, of rebounding and persevering. It's also fresh and funny.
Little Gem through May 5 and City Theatre. For ticket and performance information, call or visit citytheatrecompany.org.