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Moloney opens new Dublin-set play Off Broadway

July 7, 2011

By Staff Reporter

(Novelist Colum McCann will lead a talk-back session after Tuesday night’s performance of “Eva the Chaste.” PHOTOCALL)

It’s difficult to imagine that Aedín Moloney could “shift up a gear.”

As it is, her hard-driving rendition of “Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy” has thrilled audiences and won plaudits.

But that’s the phrase she used when referring her aim at this Friday’s world premiere of “Eva the Chaste,” a new one-woman play, at Theater Row on West 42nd Street.

“It’s off-Broadway. It’s on a much bigger scale than anything we’ve done previously,” she said, referring to the Fallen Angel Theatre Company, which she founded with the director John Keating.

The play itself is partly inspired by Barbara Hammond’s admiration for her performances of the famous extract from “Ulysses.”

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The playwright approached her two years ago with the proposal for the one-woman play. The first draft was delivered to her on Christmas Eve, 2009.

Moloney has since given several work-in-progress readings in New York and Washington D.C.

“It’s been around,” she said.

In contrast to the practice of companies taking a work in a different direction than intended by the playwright, she said, Fallen Angel worked closely on the project with Hammond, a Wisconsin native who lived for several years in Dublin.

Moloney and Keating founded the company with the aim of bringing to New York the “most outstanding and daring new plays” by or about Irish and British women.

“I respect writers and writing,” she said. “But my interpretation as an actress is important, too, as is the director’s and the lighting person’s.”

Eva is a Paris-based social worker who has herself had a checkered career on the margins of society. She returns to coastal North County Dublin to help her siblings care for their ailing mother.

The play is a meditation on that bond between a mother and daughter that never seems to break, Moloney said, even in cases where it has been severely tested over time.

“It’s an exploration of death, too, and of having to confront one’s own mortality when a parent dies,” she added.

Eva, having spent two decades abroad, the actress said, is at a crossroads in her life. “She soaked up a whole other culture,” the actress said, “but her roots are deeply embedded in her.”

She is a complex character and thus a realistic one. “None of us is all black or white. We’re shades of gray,” Moloney said.

The production will have three talk-back sessions, the first of which will be moderated after next Tuesday’s performance by novelist Colum McCann, who has described “Eva the Chaste” as a “magnificent play with one of the best actresses in New York City, or anywhere else for that matter.”

Moloney has also organized with Tom Moran a special benefit performance on Monday, July 18, at Mutual of America, on the 35th Floor, 320 Park Ave. (RSVP [email protected] by July 5). It will honor 78-year-old Yolanda Sanchez and her work with underserved Latino communities.

“It’s important to give back,” the Dublin-born actress said.

Moloney praised production manager Ruth Kavanagh and the director: “Ruth has been just terrific. John and has been a tower of strength.

“I can’t believe we’re nearly there,” she said, admitting to some pre-premiere nerves.

The slightly built Dublin actress derives some comfort, though, from an unlikely source. “I’ve been told that Michael Jordan said that he was always very nervous before every game,” Moloney said.

“Eva the Chaste,” which opens Friday, will be performed through July 24 at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd St. Tickets can be booked via Telecharge at 212-239-6200 or www.telecharge.com.  For more information go to www.fallenangeltheatre.org and www.theatrerow.org.

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