The Irish Drummer Girl | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Irish Drummer Girl

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The Irish Drummer Girl (or: War for Love), Breadline Theatre Group. Michael Oswalt's new play may be formulaic but it's also a lot of fun. The work offers a laundry list of standard plot contrivances from classical Greek, Elizabethan, and Restoration theater as well as melodrama and commedia dell'arte. Crammed into this work are hidden identities, people mistaken for dead, deus ex machina, multiple marriages, and celebratory dancing. The result is surprisingly fresh and entertaining, though it could use a good edit. Early on it could be a drama, even a tragedy. The comedy doesn't really get started until the second act, and the show ends up a farce. And Paul Kampf's direction can be busy: some of the plot twists get lost in the frenetic blocking or the din of offstage voices.

The play follows a young 18th-century Irishwoman who disguises herself as a boy so she can follow her lover, who's gone off to war. A talented cast makes the story's progression enjoyable. Many of the ensemble members play multiple roles, endowing even the smallest parts with personality. Standouts include Sorin Brouwers as the lover turned warrior, Katie Johnston as a jilted widow, Wayne Temple as a foppish lieutenant, Chris Hainsworth as the villain, and Melanie Keller as the heroine (sometimes hero). --Jenn Goddu

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