NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE
The best of what's on this week. "Murray is a perfect fit".
Eithne Shortall - Sunday Times
If ever there was an actor you wanted to see more of, it’s Mary Murray. On stage she has always had a magnetic focus, a presence somewhere between no-nonsense control and a shiver of vulnerability.
Murray’s assured presence... An actor of tremendous physical versatility and wit, she falls into comic contortions as a simpering pregnant woman, puffs up and out to play a Liverpool vamp, and demonstrates myriad ways to inhale, each as individual as a fingerprint.
Peter Crawley - The Irish Times
“What makes this close to a magical hour is Murray’s mastery of Dublin Argot, delivered by his characters with meaty and frequently hilarious gusto… And then of course there’s Mary Murray, sole performer on an empty stage. She couples the space with such consummate skill that her audience feel themselves being shoved and poked at the crowded bar, choking in the smoky haze, an uneasy witness to the frayed tempers that range from the irritating and pesky to the dangerously violent…and that’s just the women. That’s acting folks.
Emer O' Kelly- Sunday Independent
A one woman tour de force by the highly talented Mary Murray.
Michael Moffatt -Irish Mail On Sunday.
All of the characters are brought together by a skilled and vibrant lead performance. Mary captivates the audience with ease... The way in which she controls her body and changes seamlessly has all the markings of a fit, physical actor who takes her craft very seriously. As for the script written by Paddy Murray it's chock full of sharp Dublin wit and wordplay with a solid plot. Complimenting all this is a varied array of facial expressions that are hilarious to look at... and strongly delivered accents...Her performance is so engaging it almost draws the audience to participation...an overwhelmingly positive experience. Mary Murray is an accomplished theatre actor who clearly loves what she does. No Smoke Without Fire is a great play that'll leave you in stitches- A one woman showcase well worth the trip.
Cormac Fitzgerald: No More Workhorse.
Murray creates all of these distinctive and diverse characters with skill, transforming herself between each one, her stance in a couple of instances enough to give us an idea of the type of character that's emerged, building into them individual quirks and tics, in performances that are well paced, delivering many great one liners, some sharp and cutting. But it is not all about laughs either as the story unfolds about the cash and Larry, the camper van and a deceased husband, under the steady direction of Jimmy Smallhorne.
It is a wonderful hour of theatre that doesn't outstay its welcome, and shows flowing, comic writing, all brought to life by a performer on top of her game, making it look easy and natural. With nothing on stage but Murray, she rises to the challenge delightfully, showing great skill, timing and control resulting in a very enjoyable piece of theatre.
RED CURTAIN REVIEW
It's a masterful display, and an absorbing exercise in both physical theatre and storytelling...cutting through amusing one-liners with superb comic timing... her seamless transition from one character to the next is what makes this play special...you can practically smell the cigarette smoke, and she doesn't even use a prop. Yep, Mary Murray is the real deal.
Chris Wasser - Evening Herald
Highly entertaining...a tour de force of versatility...executed with great delivery and nuance.
Bairbre Ni Bhraonain: Dublin Gazette
...these pieces, along with the very recent No Smoke Without Fire by Paddy Murray and featuring his daughter, the remarkably talented Mary Murray in six roles, gave us theatre of a high, sometimes excellent, standard.
Emer O' Kelly - Irish Independent
-Theatre Review Of The Year 2013
The scene is set for a wild descent into mayhem, violence and delusion which ends explosively." -Emer O'Kelly,
The Sunday Independent"Agnes is a part written in theatre heaven for a strong actor and Mary Murray fits it to perfection in this production."
-Emer O'Kelly, The Sunday Independent"[Mary Murray]
...electrifying, and mesmerising and unforgettable – everything a performance should be...Mary Murray’s performance as the piteous waitress Agnes White is utterly convincing and simply bewitching." -Sheena Lambert. writing.ie
Both Ryan and Murray surmount this demanding challenge …no mean feat.
DANCING AT LUGHNASA
Rose is immediately identifiable as having an intellectual disability of some sort. Child-like and innocent, she speaks from the top of her head, putting her foot in it at times, often with hilarious consequences... Mary Murray who plays Rose remains impressively in character from start to finish, her graceless stomping around in the wellies and facial contortions conveying a world of meaning and emotion. It’s a very honest portrayal of the character of Rose, she draws empathy and love from the audience and gives us lots of laughs with some perfectly-timed lines Her child-like innocence and special closeness with Agnes played by Catherine Cusack, is beautifully summed up in her line ‘I love you, Aggie! love you more than chocolate biscuits!’.
...fast-paced Irish humour, delivered superbly by the cast who truly look and act like a family in every way. Mary Murray, who plays Rose, is the notable stand-out star, with her fantastic one-liners, expert comedic timing, hilarious facial expressions and gestures, along with the ability to portray the innocence mixed with humorous stubbornness that reminds one of a child of lesser years.
... a tremendous standard of acting and a clever rhythm to the production... Rose (Mary Murray) brings laughter with her direct point of view and the simplicity of her outlook...Altogether this is a superior production and most enjoyable.
Anne Hailes: Belfast Times
The casting is spot on, from the charming rogue Gerry Evans (played by Matt Tait), to stern sister Kate (played by Catherine McCormack), the characters are not only fully formed, but endearing in their own individual ways and standout performances undoubtedly go to Cara Kelly’s portrayal of fun loving Maggie and Mary Murray’s Rose.
...all portrayed their personalities and quirks with vigour and vibrancy. Mary Murray’s portrayal of Rose Mundy for me was a stand-out performance. She was believable and authentic in a role that couldn’t have been easy to do with such empathy for Rose’s mental and intellectual challenges.
Stand out performances come in the form of Mary Murray as the hapless Rose and Declan Conlan as the confused Jack. Both of them play with the text beautifully offering fresh and exciting takes on well loved characters and they breath life into every scene.
Katie MCCann - Meg.ie
The ensemble cast (Catherine McCormack, Catherine Cusack, Cara Kelly, Vanessa Emme, Mary Murray, Declan Conlon, Matt Tait, Charlie Bonner) work incredibly well together; with the sisters giving wholly believable performances as women who cherish yet tire of each other. Much of the humour arises from the characters of Maggie (Cara Kelly) and Rose (Mary Murray).
David Keane - The Reviews Hub
It is orchestrated by songs performed live by Mary Murray as an eternal mourning figure in a performance that shows her singing talents to be as remarkable as her acting.
Sunday Independent - Emer O' Kelly
...Mary Murray who sings and chants various songs throughout the piece and as reference is made in the play to Yeats “Cathleen Ni Houlihan” she is with her songs the personification of Ireland as a nation in all of its complexities.
No More Workhorse
...underscored by operatic strains from a musician (a steely-voiced Mary Murray, singing old ballads arranged by Susan McKeown).
Exeunt Magazine - Chris McCormack
Mary Murray’s potent and haunting singing role was almost like a chorus, but she was also a silent double for each female character that was referenced.
Rachel Rafferty - The Reviews Hub.
NOAH AND THE TOWER FLOWER
(NEW YORK )
...it's electrifying theater.
The show has been sensitively directed by Jim Culleton, and much of its
meld of power and charm lies in the performances of Mary Murray and
Darren Healy. They were Natalie and Noah in Dublin, where the play won
the Irish Times Award for best play in 2007, and also on tour in Europe,
and there's not a false breath on stage. With a twisted smile and taut
stillness, Murray makes you fairly ache for Natalie's vulnerability.
Healy's wiry body is alive with tics, smiles, and laughs, only partially
covering the neediness and tendency to violence that lie beneath. His
spot-on impersonations of Robert De Niro, Noah's movie idol, add greatly
to the humor that seasons the script.
Mary Murray is compelling and endearing
Gwen Orel- The Irish Examiner
theatergoers lucky enough to see a play that is so well written and
perfectly performed that they quickly forget they are watching a
performance. The American premiere of Noah and the Tower Flower
is one of those special treats that makes audience members believe they
are eavesdropping on a real-life drama unfolding in front of them...Darren Healy and Mary
Murray, both in the original cast, are exceptional actors. They are
heart-wrenching to watch as they yearn for the intimacy that has always
eluded them. At the same time, they make Noah and Natalie full-blooded,
endearing people who, despite all obstacles, have kept their humor and
love of life. Healy perfectly captures all of Noah’s feverish energy,
along with his vulnerability. Murray is outstanding as she reveals all
the dimensions of a scarred woman longing for a romantic relationship
but terrified of getting hurt again. Under Jim Culleton’s sensitive
direction, the play is deeply affecting but ultimately hopeful.
Iris Greenberger: Show Business Magazine, New York.
As Natalie, Mary Murray embodies a woman whose optimism is tempered with
despair, while Darren Healy, playing Noah, teases out depth from an
excitable young man who might otherwise turn exhausting. The two,
directed byJim Culleton, are well matched and believable. They have chemistry, and it comes through in their characters.
New York Times
...it is definitely a romance, despite its harshness, particularly when
performed by the two extraordinary actors who created the roles.
Those performers, the galvanic Darren Healy and the funny and moving Mary Murray...Natalie and Noah are real-seeming and fully dimensioned. It would be
easy indeed to imagine their lives beyond the few brief scenes and
moments playwright McLoughlin has provided. That’s something you can’t
say of a lot of otherwise admirable plays. The performances by Murray
and Healy rank among the genuine achievements of this year’s 1st Irish
Joseph Hurley:The Irish Echo: New York
Mary Murray plays Natalie, the recovering heroin addict from the
projects (hence “Tower Flower”), her wonderful voice part hacksaw, part
Helen Shaw: Time Out; New York
These are real people. Mary Murray is a spitfire. Her body language is
that of a cornered animal, her speech vulgar and cocky. The portrayal of
Natalie at odds with herself is consummate. Exuberant abandonment to
Elton John and her fear of regression are sympathetic, but never soft.
The character is a street fighter. A beautifully calibrated performance.
Alix Cohen: womanabouttown.com New York
It’s a remarkable playwriting debut from McLoughlin, and an apt showcase for talented actors Darren Healy and Mary Murray. Director Jim Culleton elicits emotional, honest performances from Darren
Healy as Noah (who balances his quirky humor with his neediness) and
Mary Murray as Natalie (who finds the fear beneath Natalie’s tough
exterior). It’s a fine production of a compelling play.
Pride Of Parnell Street
Ms. Murray has a gift for
sensually summoning the fractured present of people for whom the past
seems far more vivid than anything since, in other words, she’s a
pleasure to watch and listen to.
Ben Brantley (New York Times)
…the talented Murray turns this language into authentic arias.
Back Stage (Karl Levett)
central performances…Murray serves her role extremely well…infusing
Janet with electrifying life…it's amazing how much music and poetry she
can bring to a monologue about a bloody nose.
Theater Mania (Theatre Mania)
Murray’s work constantly lifts the drama
Time Out New York (Helen Shaw)
current production could not be in better hands. Mary Murray as Janet
is as complex as they come…From start to finish, Murray has our
attention, and the flowing poetry of Barry could not be delivered in a
more fulfilling way than it is with her.
nytheatre.com review (Matt Roberson)
the luminescent Mary Murray…From the moment she takes the stage, Murray is charismatic and commanding…
Music OMH (Richard Pattison)
performances… Mary Murray proves to be a quick-change artist of the
soul…Murray treats the material with a welcome understatement that only
adds to its power. Lighting & Sound America (David
Murray's performance is stellar.
Curtain Up (Paulanne Simmons)
Brilliant performances, with Ms. Murray, particularly, showing us a myriad of nuances…
The Epoch Times (Diana Birch)
Beautifully directed by Jim Culleton and performed by a pair of actors who feel for their characters down to their souls…Murray gives a performance of amazing grace. She's fidgety at first, then turns resolute before finally achieving a kind of beautiful serenity.Frank Rizzo -Variety
Culleton's two performers -- Mary Murray as Janet and Karl Shiels as Joe -- wield Barry's language beautifully and prove themselves to be master storytellers. Ms. Murray fills Janet with nervous energy and stiff humour that make this character simply riveting…What makes these performers most engaging, though, is their exploration of that fine line between retelling history and reliving it.
Christopher Grobe - New Haven Independent
Given that Barry writes in a honeyed prose spiked with a wormwood humour, and the monologues are performed with exquisite restraint by Mary Murray and Karl Sheils, there is hardly a dry eye in the house by the end.
Lyn Gardner- The Guardian
There's something about an Irish accent, warm and inviting, that works particularly well with a first-person narrative. So it is here that, as soon as actress Mary Murray's lilting tones start up, we settle back contentedly into our seats…So gripping is Murray's opening salvo…It's a remarkable turn from Murray,
Fiona Mountford -- Evening Standard
Under Jim Culleton's sure direction, the two actors give their all and bring us an opportunity to meet those whom most theatre goers never will. These may not be the most articulate of people, though they are possibly more so than they ought to be. Even so, they speak with a kind of rhythmic poetry of the streets painting verbal pictures; and the tale that they tell is never less than gripping
Philip Fisher - The British Theatre Guide
Murray is truly breathtaking as the wise and compassionate Janet. Unlike many stories of domestic violence, hers is not the usual tale of gradual decline, and her strength of character leads the direction of the play in an unexpected direction. Injecting Janet with a highly entertaining blend of humour, sympathy and insight, Murray ensures a play that could have had its awkward moments in less capable hands is absolutely captivating right until the final curtain.
Catherine Usher - The Stage
TINY PLAYS FOR IRELAND
Perhaps most pleasurable of all is the enjoyment of watching the ensemble play: play with accents, play with characterisations, play with wigs…there was such a predominant feeling of enjoyment in the execution and presentation of the project that it felt as though there was no separation between cast and audience.
Irish Theatre Magazine - Susan Conley
The 25 pieces are performed by a cast of 6 who inhabit the 50 characters with so much dedication and clarity that it is little wonder a man in the seat behind me murmured his disbelief that there weren't more of them, as they lined up for their curtain call.
“these are trained actors.” They really have to be. For Peter Daly, Don Wycherley, Steve Blount, Mary Murray and Kate Stanley Brennan – all superb – negotiating this many styles and voices so seamlessly requires great skill.
The Irish Times Peter Crawley
the cast – Peter Daly, Kate Stanley Brennan, Don Wycherley, Mary Murray and Steve Blount – are brilliantly versatile. Under Jim Culleton's direction, they provide the unifying thread that this pointillist approach to theatre might otherwise lack.
The Guardian Helen Meany
…the production is carried by a sterling ensemble and wonderful direction.
The Movie Blog
It’s what theatre should be about, and all too often is not, and the cast - Kate Stanley Brennan, Mary Murray, Don Wycherley, Peter Daly and Steve Blount - are superb under Culleton’s direction.
Sunday Independent Emer O’ Kelly
Mary Murray is, as usual a joy to watch; her solo phone call with a sexual pervert is a comic delight, underplayed and unforgettable.
The Irish Mail On Sunday - Michael Moffatt
Mary Murray’s performance as the frazzled but stoic wife is excellent, injecting the role with a great comic physicality that produced many of the play’s laughs.
Sarah Gilmartin - www.nomoreworkhouse.com
The actors Mary Murray (Gerty) and Maeve FitzGerald (Martha) really shone in particular.
Fitzgerald and Mary Murray, meanwhile, multi-task heroically as a
gaggle of vividly realised male and female characters (seventeen at
least, I counted). Goodness knows how they remembered where the next cue
was coming from
Terry Blain- Irish Theatre Magazine
Mary Murray and Meave Fitzgerald in particular play both male and female characters with versatility,
Clara Kumagai - Meg
The players inhabit an array of different characters as they seamlessly shed. It is difficult to single out any one in particular but, on the night, Mary Murray was outstanding. Like Bolger, she understands Dublin. For anyone who has seen her perform in Sebastian Barry’s The Pride of Parnell Street the honesty of her performance in Ulysses will come as no surprise. She moves from male to female characters without hesitation, avoiding the temptation to demonstrate virtuosity but instead concentrates on living the character.
TINY PLAYS FOR IRELAND 2
Five actors – Steve
Blount, Peter Daly, Sorcha Fox, Mary Murray and Don Wycherley – perform
split-second character changes, accompanied by intricate sound and lighting
design…The real triumph though is the quality of the performances, in a
showcase of brilliantly versatile acting talent.
Helen Meany - The Guardian
Throughout, the cast demonstrates a sublime versatility...
Crawley – The Irish Times
Although the plays are
the stars of the show, the superb ensemble can't be ignored. Gliding in and out
of characters with ease, the five actors take the words of the Tiny Plays and
bring them to life.
Brendan O’ Rourke –
The fantastic acting ensemble are Steve
Blount, Peter Daly, Sorcha Fox, Mary Murray and Don Wycherley. They play age
ranges from newborn to pensioners, swapping accents, roles, genders and
dialogue with ease. They're also easy to watch - they know what they're doing
and are eager to bring the audience with them, letting them in on the humour
and frenetic pace.
TWELVE DAYS IN MAY
"Incredibly moving. Mary Murray gives a fabulous performance portraying the fierce personality of Nora Connolly with empathy.
Arena RTE Radio