A Ghostly Shine

Michael Hogan

A tale of despair and redemption in the streets of Dublin, Conor McPherson’s “Shining City” is a modern day ghost story.

Running at the Boston University Theater as part of the Huntington Theater Company’s 2007-2008 season, “Shining City” is a marvel of modern theater. The show runs from March 7 – April 6.

The mysterious world of contemporary Ireland comes to life in the work of this master of today’s stage. “Shining City” follows Ian, an ex-priest turned therapist who is struggling to keep his life together. A crumbling relationship, an impending baby, and the uncertainty of existence are all weighing on his conscious.

A new client walks into Ian’s office and turns his world on its back. John is a middle aged man who has just lost his wife in a car accident. Haunted by the ghost of his recently deceased wife, John has been having trouble sleeping and has come to Ian for help.

Broadway veteran Robert Falls, who helmed the original New York premier in 2006, directs the show once again. Falls vision and McPherson’s script combine into a mesmerizing mix of psychological liberation and desolation.

Delving deep into the heart and soul of the human experience, McPherson grabs the audience with his raw and gripping emotional storyline. It would be hard to come away from a showing of “Shining City” without examining oneself, without searching one’s own soul.

Only four actors grace the stage in this brilliant work. Jay Whittaker is a veteran of roles ranging from Shakespeare to the Fox television hit “Prison Break.” His turn here at therapist Ian holds together a story that could easily crumble beneath the emotional weight of so much drama.

While Whittaker gives a performance to be enjoyed, John Judd gives one that should be marveled. As John, the patient who has been racked with guilt and insomnia, Judd brings tears to the eyes of even the hardest audience member as he relives the days with his recently passed wife. Tears one minute and laughter the next, Judd swings the audience through the whole emotional spectrum seemingly with ease.

“Shining City” is a masterpiece of modern theater and Huntington Theater Company’s performance is one for the ages.

“Shining City” plays at the Boston University Theater through April 6. Visit the Huntington Theater Company’s website at huntingtontheater.org for tickets and information about “Shining City” and all of the other remaining shows in the 2008 season.