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APT review: "Molly Sweeney" a treat for APT regulars

By William R. Wineke, Special to Channel 3000
Published On: Aug 04 2013 03:34:37 AM CDT

SPRING GREEN, Wis. -

If you are a fan of American Players Theater productions – and, if you are reading this, that’s not a bad guess – here’s all you really have to know about the current production of "Molly Sweeney."

It stars Colleen Madden, David Daniel, and Jonathan Smoots, and each is at the top of his – and her – respective games.

If a.) You are not a fanatic of APT, or b.) You are but still want to know something about the play, read on.

"Molly Sweeney" is a two-act play by Irish playwright Brian Friel that was first performed in 1994. The title character, played by Madden, lost her eyesight when she was 10 months old. She adapted happily to her condition and was a joyous, productive citizen.

When she was about 40, she married Frank Sweeney (David Daniel), a hopeless romantic much given to misguided causes and Sweeney insisted she could be given sight. As it turns out, in the same town there was a once-celebrated eye surgeon, Mr. Rice, played, of course, by Smoots.

Mr. Rice performs the surgery and it is a success. Molly can’t see perfectly – no one promised her that – but she can see. The ability to see changes her life for the worse, as it does with her relationship to her husband and to her doctor – who tends to have a taste for whiskey anyway.

Well, this is an Irish play. You didn’t expect a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, did you?

Still, it is a riveting story, told through a series of monologues by each of the characters to illustrate the same story, seen through differing eyes, has differing meanings.

The story itself is based on an essay by neurologist and author Oliver Sacks about a 50-year-old who had sight restored and had a difficult time making sense of a visual world.

Played by less expert actors, the play could have seemed trite. But nothing Colleen Madden does is ever trite and Daniel and Smoots make their characters completely believable.

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