By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com
From left, Carley Elizabeth Preston, Steve Wood and Jeff Scotland portray people who can't escape their isolated lives.
It seems logical enough that those of us with full sight would feel sorry for those without sight, those who have been blind since infancy like 41-year-old Molly in Irish playwright Brian Friel’s poetic work “Molly Sweeney” which Pat Timm has directed at Live Theatre Workshop.
For anyone who cares about thought-provoking theater that dares to contemplate the merit of values and intentions deep beneath the obvious, this production of “Molly Sweeney” must be seen. The casting is excellent. The performances are complete.
Each actor probes layered emotions, daring to want more while artfully maintaining a psychological balance in this competition of complex emotions. Like a delicate house of cards Timm’s three-dimensional structure hangs together as it grows more elaborate, until the playwright has his final say.
There is not a happy ending in the Hollywood movie sense of the word, but the conclusion is a satisfactory one – which reflection afterward will deepen considerably.
Friel didn’t stage this story with dialogue but as a series of interwoven monologues presented by Molly, her husband and her doctor each telling the audience their side of what becomes a touching tale of misguided intentions.
Carley Elizabeth Preston is cast as Molly, sitting in the somewhat drab cottage that is her home in County Donegal, Ireland. Steve Wood becomes Molly’s husband Frank, a restless guy whose dreams have a very short attention span.
Jeff Scotland plays the famous ophthalmologist-surgeon Mr. Rice. Ambitious by nature, he has been a little too reckless at times and now lives with some regret.
The story begins with the arc of 42-year-old Molly’s life. As a child she received the caring attention of her father, who taught Molly independence by learning how to distinguish all of her surroundings using the senses of hearing, smell, touch and taste.
Molly has reached a peaceful accommodation with her place in life, imagining herself in a world of wonders she will never see.
But energetic Frank wants more for her. He insists there is scientific evidence that, with the right doctor, Molly could have her full sight restored. Her life would be perfect.
Mr. Rice agreed there was no damage to the eyes themselves and, theoretically, there was a very slim chance some partial sight could be restored. He didn’t add that if the operation was successful, his own reputation would be enormously enhanced.
The sweetly generous Molly insists she is happy enough with her life as it is, but Frank is so determined to make her life better.
So Molly relents. She agrees to have the operation, which Mr. Rice has agreed to do. As the bandages are removed, large shapes vaguely defined become visible. There are some differences in color.
But even these become overwhelming for the quiet Molly. The shapes are always moving. They are nothing like what Molly imagined. She closes her eyes to shut them out. But her peaceful world has been shaken up and radically changed forever.
“Molly Sweeney” continues through Aug. 30 at Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd., with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20, with discounts available. For details and reservations, 520-327-4242, or visit www.livetheatreworkshop.org