World Premiere Commission
by Kelly Younger
adapted from the novel by Peter Quinn
directed by Ciarán O’Reilly
October 13 – December 5, 2010
The Irish Repertory Theatre commissioned playwright Kelly Younger to write this bristling drama, adapted from Peter Quinn’s epic novel, set during the Civil War in New York City.
Against the backdrop of the dangerous, sweltering Civil War summer of 1863, the Bowery explodes with racial tension and the City of New York rushes headlong toward the fatal July draft riots. Moving to the music and rhythms of these dangerous times, a diverse band of characters is drawn together in a net of intrigue and violence.
Jack Mulcahy leading an Irish minstrel troupe, stars opposite his true love, a beautiful Mulatto girl who whites her face and crosses the ice as Eliza in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. On the blistering streets outside, corrupt Tammany Hall bosses plot to take advantage of the chaos to enrich themselves whilst destroying any hopes of escape to a place of freedom and peace for Jack and his little family. The famous songwriter, Stephen Foster, himself one of the Banished Children of Eve, wends his way through this entrancing drama as he produces the beautiful melodies which have given the country its lasting evocation of the times.
Banished Children of Eve received developmental support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional scenic design funding support is provided by The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.
“Director Ciarán O’Reilly skillfully weaves the multiple narrative threads with specificity and clarity. Banished Children of Eve is uncannily resonant.” – Time Out New York
“The Irish Repertory Theatre is presenting one of its most ambitious works: it succeeds impressively. Kudos for mounting this superior production, which melds historical information with theatrical excitement, with a bit of music, song, and dance skillfully injected.” – Epoch Times
“IT’S AN ELECTRIFYING PIECE OF HISTORY THAT DIRECTOR CIARÁN O’REILLY AND HIS FINE ENSEMBLE BRING TO THE STAGE WITH FLAIR. The production’s opening moments sweep audiences back in time cinematically as company members begin shifting the arced walls and stair units that comprise Charlie Corcoran’s scenic design circularly around the stage, and characters ranging from a Fulton Street fishmonger to a busker hawking a minstrel show that boasts scenes from Uncle Tom’s Cabin enter. Their words spill onto one another and THE CACOPHONY BRINGS A CROWDED METROPOLIS OF A BYGONE ERA THRILLINGLY TO LIFE.” – Theatremania
“Placing large historical events in the context of ordinary people’s lives can bring the past back to life. The world premiere of “Banished Children of Eve” succeeds in this resurrection, as AN ABSORBING, INTIMATE MELODRAMA about a small, diverse group of New Yorkers caught up in the Draft Riots of 1863, a week of racial and mob violence that tore up Civil War Manhattan. WRITING BY KELLY YOUNGER, STRONG PERFORMANCE AND LOVELY SINGING MAKE FOR A RICH THEATRICAL EVENING. This Irish Rep production brings an eventful bygone era to thrilling life.” – Associated Press
“One of the main things you have to love about The Irish Repertory Theatre is that it doesn’t occur to them that they cannot fit the world on their stage. Thank God for that. THIS FINE, FINE CAST BRINGS TO LIFE A CORNUCOPIA OF PEOPLE. Kelly Younger and the director Ciarán O’Reilly (who also gave us The Emperor Jones last season) have cherry-picked the exact right number of characters and stories to fill the stage to bursting. Charlie Corcoran has created a stage that literally revolves and reveals world within world. Serenaded most admirably by Mr. Gets simple and extraordinary singing, THIS PLAY IS POSITIVELY GLORIOUS. I am off to get a copy of Quinn’s The Banished Children of Eve, because two splendid hours is just not enough time for me to have with these characters and their stories. Our only frontier now is history and the many stories that have been forgotten or denied us. Congratulations to these folk for resurrection an important chapter of our shared tale. Bravo. Next drink is on me.” – New York Theatre Guide
“It is an ambitious undertaking, AND EXTREMELY WELL EXECUTED. The sweeping scope of this play is surprisingly well handled in the limited space of the Irish Repertory Theatre, kudos to Charlie Corcoran’s set design which is innovative and perfectly rendered. Mr. Lansbury and young Mr. Borger are excellent, but Ms. Gray stands out as the heart and soul of this show. She is a luminous presence that is slowly and painfully dimmed. Stephen Foster, is drinking himself into oblivion; he stands both part of and apart from the drama unfolding around him. Malcolm Gets, an accomplished and familiar performer, provides the steady hand and perfect responses he always does (and) provides a perfect grounding for the action on stage. IT IS A SWEEPING STORY, BEAUTIFULLY TOLD. Director Ciaran O’Reilly handles this subject matter effortlessly. Stunning.” – ReviewsOffBroadway.com
“This is an excellent ensemble. Malcolm Gets is able, believable, and admirably restrained. AMBER GRAY IS A SPITFIRE, A CONSISTENT AND COMPELLING SOURCE OF THEATRICAL ENERGY. HELL, CON ED COULD HOOK UP TO THIS LADY AND MANAGE THE EASTERN SEABOARD. WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN A LESSON OR POLEMIC IS A DRAMATIC EVENING OF COMPREHENSIBLE, PROVOCATIVE THEATER. Banished Children Of Eve is rich tapestry of regrettable history about which I’d venture few people are aware, undoubtedly why The Irish Repertory Company commissioned it…an interesting, entertaining and informative evening which may bring up discussion of too many similar situations today. ” – WomanAroundTown.com
“AN ASTONISHING AND ELOQUENT PRODUCTION” – TalkEntertainment.com