The Irish Repertory Theatre commissioned playwright Kelly Younger to write this bristling drama, adapted from Peter Quinn’s epic novel, set during the Civil War in New York City.
An astonishing and eloquent production.
Against the backdrop of the dangerous, sweltering Civil War summer of 1863, the Bowery explodes with racial tension and the City of New York rushes headlong toward the fatal July draft riots. Moving to the music and rhythms of these dangerous times, a diverse band of characters is drawn together in a net of intrigue and violence.
It is an ambitious undertaking, and extremely well executed. It is a sweeping story, beautifully told. Stunning.
Jack Mulcahy leading an Irish minstrel troupe, stars opposite his true love, a beautiful Mulatto girl who whites her face and crosses the ice as Eliza in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. On the blistering streets outside, corrupt Tammany Hall bosses plot to take advantage of the chaos to enrich themselves whilst destroying any hopes of escape to a place of freedom and peace for Jack and his little family. The famous songwriter, Stephen Foster, himself one of the Banished Children of Eve, wends his way through this entrancing drama as he produces the beautiful melodies which have given the country its lasting evocation of the times.
This fine, fine cast brings to life a cornucopia of people. Kelly Younger and the director Ciarán O’Reilly have cherry-picked the exact right number of characters and stories to fill the stage to bursting. This play is positively glorious. Bravo.
– New York Theatre Guide
Banished Children of Eve is uncannily resonant.
– Time Out New York
The Irish Repertory Theatre is presenting one of its most ambitious works: it succeeds impressively. Kudos for mounting this superior production, which melds historical information with theatrical excitement, with a bit of music, song, and dance skillfully injected.
– Epoch Times
It’s an electrifying piece of history that director Ciaran O’Reilly and his fine ensemble bring to the state with flair. Their words spill onto one another and the cacophony brings a crowded metropolis of a bygone era thrillingly to life.
The world premiere of Banished Children of Eve succeeds in this resurrection, as an absorbing, intimate melodrama about a small, diverse group of New Yorkers caught up in the Draft Riots of 1863, a week of racial and mob violence that tore up Civil War Manhattan. Writing by Kelly Younger, strong performances and lovely singing make for a rich theatrical evening. This Irish Rep production brings an eventful bygone era to thrilling life.
– Associated Press
What could have been a lesson or polemic is a dramatic evening of comprehensible, provocative theater. Banished Children Of Eve is rich tapestry of regrettable history about which I’d venture few people are aware, undoubtedly why The Irish Repertory Company commissioned it…an interesting, entertaining and informative evening which may bring up discussion of too many similar situations today.
Banished Children of Eve received developmental support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional scenic design funding support is provided by The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.