Irish Arts Center, based in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC and renowned for presenting dynamic, inspiring, collaborative experiences of the evolving arts and culture of Ireland and Irish America in an environment of warm Irish hospitality, presents Mikel Murfi’s trilogy The Man in the Woman’s Shoes, I Hear You and Rejoice, and the North American premiere of the intimate, searching, and painfully funny final installment The Mysterious Case of Kitsy Rainey.
The Man in the Woman’s Shoes and I Hear You and Rejoice—the first two works in his trilogy bringing to vivid life a small-town cobbler and the coterie of full-hearted, warm, and infinitely gossipy characters he encounters—both made their New York Times Critic’s Pick U.S. premieres at Irish Arts Center. The newspaper praised the “inexhaustibly multifarious writer, director and sole performer” for “body language as precise, condensed and evocative as Morse code,” in his works “in which an entire town is summoned into being.” Murfi now returns to present both plays alongside the The Mysterious Case of Kitsy Rainey, for the first time populating Irish Arts Center’s new theater with the trilogy’s throng of animated personalities.
In The Man in the Woman’s Shoes (IAC, 2015), non-verbal cobbler protagonist Pat Farnon takes a five-mile walk through town in a pair of women’s flats, wearing them in for a customer, on whom he has an overwhelming crush—the vociferous football coach Kitsy Rainey. I Hear You and Rejoice (IAC, 2018) is set some years down the line—years that have seen Farnon through both unexpected bliss and tragedy. Equipped onstage with nothing but a chair and his seemingly infinite physical and vocal abilities, Murfi draws a heartwarming and often hilarious portrait of the intimacy of a community. While featuring many of the characters audiences know and love, The Mysterious Case of Kitsy Rainey focuses on an encounter between Pat Farnon and a new character whose antics and insights reveal the many ways life can surprise us, and we can surprise ourselves.
The trilogy follows the institution’s acclaimed recent American premiere of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast’s punk-rock musical Good Vibrations, reconfiguring the theater to provide an intimate experience of one of Ireland’s finest storytellers. Trained at École Jacques Lecoq, Paris, Mikel Murfi is a performer, director, and writer celebrated for his “vocal dexterity,” “physical nimbleness” (TimeOut) and all-around “astonishing acting” (The New York Times). He is cherished in Ireland for these poignant multi-character solo plays, for his collaborations with Enda Walsh, for his acting roles at the Abbey Theatre, and more. Between presentations of Walsh’s plays (Ballyturk and The Last Hotel, in which Murfi performed, and Misterman, for which he served as movement director) at St. Ann’s Warehouse and Irish Arts Center’s showcasing of Murfi’s solo performances, Murfi has likewise been welcomed to wide acclaim in New York.
Says Murfi of his masterpiece creation, “I’ve spent ten years with Pat Farnon. It’s the most beautiful experience as an actor, because the character becomes like family: it does my heart good to be with him. He’s the most lovely man.”
The performances of these virtuosic solo works are being presented in repertory through November 18. Though the trilogy can be taken as a whole, all three shows can be experienced as vital standalone works.
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