The Seedbed, a tense four-hander at the Irish Classical Theatre by playwright Brian Delaney, is about as Irish as you can get in terms of writing style and turn of phrase, but the cast, with Greg Natale at the helm, has no problem communicating the colloquialisms in a way that audiences can understand. It is my personal opinion that Delaney's script is slightly predictable, and borders on favoring form over content, but it is an honest script with a good overall structure. The play is, from ICTC's website "a chilling family drama" in which an 18-year-old girl returns to her family home after some time away on the weekend of her parents' anniversary. What transpires from there is nothing short of shocking, rattling to the core the frail structure of the family.
The benefit of seeing the ICTC production is found in the specific and well-rehearsed performances. It isn't every day that Buffalo audience members get to see plays where the cast and playwright have worked together throughout the rehearsal process to hone the finished product. This is the case at Irish Classical Theatre, where playwright Brian Delaney has again partnered with ICTC on The Seedbed, as he did with much success on The Cobbler. This partnership is one Buffalo audiences should hope continues.
Bringing to life the drama and pain of this particular marriage, Chris Kelly and Kristin Tripp Kelley are spectacular as Thomas and Hannah. This is a pair that obviously works well together on stage, as previously demonstrated by their work in An Ideal Husband, also with ICTC. Kelly's ability to ground himself in Thomas' stoic tendencies make it all the more impactful when the couple's daughter comes home with a seemingly unsuitable fiancee in tow. Kelly succeeds in humanizing a character who could prove excessive or overblown at times. At no point does the audience lose sight of the father inside him. As Thomas' foil, Tripp Kelley is just the right amount of mysterious, while also providing a real and honest portrayal of an ordinary woman of leisure in Ireland. As the couple's daughter, Arianne Davidow is convincing. Davidow and Natale have clearly worked on the levels of characterization that make Maggie such a firecracker. Davidow does well highlighting Maggie's passion, conviction, and yet also her vulnerability and inability to fully function as an adult in some (or many) situations. Eric Rawski plays Maggie's fiancee Mick, who is by all accounts an outsider. Mick hails from London, and is not quite the match that parents would hope for their young daughter. Rawski keeps his honesty and humanity present throughout, even as his character rides the roller coaster that is family dysfunction. My one complaint with Rawski is that his accent is not fully in his body yet, which can momentarily take you away from the play. Granted, I was at a preview performance, and playing to an actual audience might have an impact on this minor flaw.
The Seedbed at Irish Classical Theatre is must-see theater, riding securely on the backs of all four talented actors on stage.
Performances on Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Saturday Matinees at 3:00pm and Sunday Matinees at 2:00pm, through April 2.