THE WELL OF THE SAINTS, Irish Repertory, at Victory Gardens Theater. The casting of a real-life husband and wife, Brigid Duffy and Charles Gerace, as Mary and Martin Doul--blind, homely beggars convinced they're blessed with gorgeous marriage partners until a wandering holy man restores their sight and they flee each other in disgust--encapsulates the strengths and weaknesses of this production. Director Lawrence MacGowan aims for authenticity, staging John Millington Synge's rustic 1905 parable with grit and humor, but his actors don't belong together. The understated, transparent Duffy and the overblown, psychologically impenetrable Gerace inhabit incompatible universes, and the supporting characters range from naturalistic peasants to cartoonish bumpkins.
Synge's unique blend of lyricism and cruelty requires far more subtle stylistic shadings than this ill-matched ensemble can provide. Except for the excruciating moment when Mary and Martin see each other for the first time--an eternity passes in their ten seconds of stunned silence--the depths of Synge's fantasy aren't tapped.