Slow Night at McLaughlin's: Sweet and Stout

Local Arts Reviews


Slow Night at McLaughlin's: Sweet and Stout

John Henry Faulk Living Theatre,

through October 9

Running Time: 1 hr, 35 min

Set in an upstate New York bar on one stormy, fated evening, Slow Night at McLaughlin's is a kind of noir family drama, in which a beautiful stranger wanders into a small town, a much-maligned brother returns home, and liberal amounts of liquor lubricate everyone's tongues, leading them to speak some previously concealed truth. When it comes to the mystery hidden within the McLaughlins' past, this new play by Marshall Ryan Maresca is successful, but it is even more successful in terms of the humor and warmth that playwright and director Maresca and his talented ensemble cast bring to the play. Slow Night is really about the three McLaughlin boys -- Ed, Tom, and David -- and the wreckage that remains of their family's tumultuous history.

Slow Night is sweet and occasionally funny, making pleasant use of the Emerald Isle's tradition of story and song -- although true to its name, the play is also slow at times, sometimes frustratingly so. As the estranged brothers, Robert L. Berry, Eric Peterson, and Jesse Wiles bring charisma and a percolating Irish temper to their roles. As the surrogate mother to the boys, Shannon Grounds offers up her heart in a nuanced performance that is both memorable and moving. An underwritten character burdened with a dramatic, pivotal speech toward play's end, Grounds brings so much to the role that she seems the linchpin that keeps it hanging together. Walking back to my car, a few of the plot twists didn't sit with me, but then again, they also didn't make me roll my eyes while I was involved in the drama. The acting and the sincerity of the play make it as satisfying, as bittersweet, and as stout as a pint of the ol' Guinness.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Arts Reviews
Review: Austin Playhouse's <i>The Norwegians</i>
Review: Austin Playhouse's The Norwegians
Revised revisiting of this dark comedy remains a guilty pleasure

Bob Abelman, Sept. 29, 2023

Review: Zach Theatre’s <i>Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone</i>
Review: Zach Theatre's Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone
A masterful tribute to the father of the Great American Songbook

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 22, 2023

More by Sarah Hepola
What if you remade a Hollywood blockbuster in your mom's basement?

March 13, 2015

Hollywood Is Calling
Hollywood Is Calling
Celebrities on Your Cell

Aug. 15, 2003

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle