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Published: Wednesday, 3/9/2011 - Updated: 4 years ago

One-man play takes hard look at Ireland


NEW YORK -- If you don't care for sentimental, "Danny Boy" Irish culture or images of jolly, shamrock-waving leprechauns, playwright Raymond Scannell has an alternative story to tell you about Ireland in his surreal one-man play, Mimic.

Written, composed, and performed by Scannell, Mimic is an oblique, haunting story of one Irishman's tortured journey from the politically and financially unstable 1980s to a dystopian future where cosmetic surgery and immortality have become mandatory.

The dark, thoughtful production, directed and designed by Tom Creed, satirizes the westernization of Irish culture and politics in an increasingly shallow, consumerist world.

On a darkened stage at the Irish Arts Center, with only a baby grand piano and a large mirror, Scannell narrates and enacts seminal events in the emotionally confused life of Julian Neary, aka Mimic. Accompanying himself on the piano, Scannell rattles off Julian's sometimes irrational inner stream-of-consciousness.

It's an effective storytelling method, creating an atmosphere of the instability inside Julian's head, although this particular story is difficult to follow at times. At a staccato pace, Scannell performs all the characters in Julian's life, also singing and providing vocal sound effects such as helicopters, gunfire, and other sounds Julian invents.

Scannell has an ambitious concept, comparing both Julian and Ireland itself to a "medley of borrowed sentiments and personalities," although the rapid pace and inventive shorthand he speaks as Julian sometimes obscures the message.

Mimic is performing through March 20.

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