MOM THEATRE BLOGGER: IRONBOUND: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

Photo credit: Sandra Coudert

Photo credit: Sandra Coudert

Not only does her character stand her ground, but actress Marin Ireland commands our attention and empathy as Darja, a feisty 30 something Polish immigrant (Ireland nails the accent) working hard to create a life for herself in America, though she is beaten down, literally, and is less than lucky in love over and over again.

Gritty and gutsy, IRONBOUND is written with a tell it like it is strength, sprinkled with twinges and cringes of humor, though there is nothing funny about the plight and circumstances brought to the intimate, stark stage.  Through one woman’s bleak and complex story, bigger timely issues are addressed like domestic violence, challenges faced by immigrants, drug addiction – and our heart goes out to Darja.  There might have been a bit more of an emotional tug if her character evolved somehow, but this is a show and powerhouse performance to be much admired.

Polish Playwright Martyna Majok (raised in New Jersey) is a recipient of the 2015-16 PoNY Fellowship, The David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize, and The 2050 Fellowship from New York Theatre Workshop.

Skillfully directed by Daniella Topol, IRONBOUND, a Top Ten Play on the 2014 Kilroys’ List, also features Drama Desk Nominee Morgan Spector (Tommy), Shiloh Fernandez (Vic), and Josiah Bania (Maks).

Told largely in the present, with scattered scenes from the past spanning 20 years of Darja’s life, from the moment we meet her and her current husband, a postal worker, at the seedy bus stop, which is the setting for the bulk of the play, we feel her yearning for both dignity and security.  Darja, who works as a cleaning woman, confronts him about an infidelity (with one of her clients) and asks for money to find and rehab her 20 something son Aleks in Chicago who is a drug addict in need of help.

In a later scene, we meet Maks, her sexy, harmonica-toting first husband from Poland who aspires to have a music career in Chicago and eventually leavse her to pursue it.  Theirs is a lustful relationship, and Darja gets pregnant.  (We don’t meet her son.)

After Maks, Darja marries the owner of the factory where she and Maks used to work, and he is physically abusive.  She bolts from him and encounters Vic (played by Fernandez in an impressive NY stage debut), who offers up a lively dose of fresh air and verse, as a wealthy prep school teen dressed as if from the ‘hood, who peddles his body, and attempts to throw some cash at Darja or put her up at his home or a hotel room.  A mensch?  Not quite sure, but she appreciates his gesture, and gives him a tender hug (a tearjerker moment) and sends him on his way.

Ireland uses her face and large eyes as a canvas of expression, and we are taken along for a ride of depth and despair. Spector holds his own with Ireland, and is particularly charming in the scene when he proposes to to her to a Bruce Springsteen tune to set the mood.

Completing the creative team are Set & Lighting designer Justin Townsend (Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), Costume Designer Kaye Voyce (The Real Thing, The Realistic Joneses) and Sound Designer Jane Shaw (Another Side of the Island).

Tickets for IRONBOUND are on sale via WWW.WPTHEATER.ORG/(212) 765-1706. Through April 10, IRONBOUND plays Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:00pm; Friday at 8:00pm; Saturday at 3:00pm & 8:00pm; and Sunday at 3:00pm. During the extension weeks, April 10–April 24, the performance schedule is: Tuesday–Friday at 8:00pm, Saturday at 3:00pm & 8:00pm, and Sunday at 7:00pm. (Please note there is no matinee show on Saturday, April 23)

IRONBOUND (90 minutes, no intermission) is produced by Women’s Project Theater and Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater.  It is playing at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (224 Waverly Place) through Sunday, April 24, 2016.