Set in contemporary and chaotic Belfast, “Rock Doves” is a drama that looks at life on the streets, life in the trenches, life at war and life at peace. It’s a story where the characters are searching for home; whether that home is a physical place, a place in the heart or a place with family. The power structure in Belfast is as turbulent during peace as it was during “troubles,” and we see the struggle for dignity and personal freedom through four unique louts. Drunken madman Knacker (Michael P. Toner) is sipping his sanity away, angry at his dead wife and carrying enough emotional baggage for ten men. He is tended to by Bella (Susan Giddings), a past-her-prime prostitute, who fronts the local mobs whorehouse. Bella’s roommate is your typical sassy (and slightly classy) transvestite, Lillian (Christopher M. Bohan), who dances for dollars at the feet of local goons.
Knacker’s alcohol induced delusions are put on hold when a naive and nameless punk (Christopher Imbroscaino) crashes into abandoned flat. The anonymous boy is hiding from something, or someone, and how he drags this little collective of societal drop-outs is the meat in this Irish stew. The drama escalates as a mystery unfolds, a murder occurs and shocking connections among the misfit foursome are revealed.
Directed by Amaryllis’ Artistic Director Mimi Kenney Smith, “Rock Dove” is a sturdy offering that shines thanks to a strong cast. The quartet all are handy with accents, nobody insults or mangles the Irish brogue. Toner is the stand out in the cast, delivering some of the most endearing lines and providing most of the snickers this heart-tugging drama has to offer. While Toner’s Knacker hogs some of the spotlight, Imbroscaino and Giddings both match his shine in one-on-one dialogues. Not to be outdone, Bohan’s Lillian is certainly the scrappiest of our four scoundrels and she displays an emotional range perfectly suited for a Royal Marine turned Tina Turner impersonator.
As the character dynamics spin and churn, “Rock Doves” finds its true Gaelic groove. The damaged denizens of Belfast begin to ping and pong off one another until one breaks–shatters like a rummy’s bottle–blazing a path for the denouncement and redemption of the rest. “Rock Doves” proves that family, even mismatched, unorthodox, pack-like street-families can be brutally honest, terribly tortured and all to often filled with as much fear and betrayal as any man’s enemies.
Rock Doves, Amaryllis Theater
The Playground at the Adrienne 2030 Sansom Street
Tickets are $20 each ($15 for seniors and $12 for students) and are available by calling 215-564-2431 x. 93 or by visiting the website at amaryllistheatre.org. Three-play subscriptions at $45 ($40 for seniors and $30 for students) are also available.
Accessibility: Audio Description Performance on Sunday, November 16 at 2:00 p.m. and Friday, November 21 at 7:00 p.m.
ASL interpretation is Friday, November 14 at 7:00 p.m.
Large Print and Braille programs available every performance.