By Frederick Heide
and Fred Alley
In this show, a cast of six pays tribute to the stories and songs of Ireland and to the immigrants who left the struggles of Ireland, only to meet with further persecution and struggle in America. Songs range from invigorating (“Star of the County Down”) to humorous (“No Irish Need Apply”) to mystical (“Land of the Ever Young”). Performed originally on AFT’s summer stage in 1993, Malarkey! was also one of the theater’s first town hall productions. (6 Players)
Door County Advocate
MIKE SHAW - July 1993
“Malarkey” catches essence of Irish
Malarkey! is full of blarney!
There’s no doubt Frederick Heide and Fred Alley kissed the Blarney Stone during their recent visit to Ireland because the American Folklore Theatre’s production “Marlarkey!” is as cajoling and persuasive as the gift of gab the legendary stone bestows on those who plant a kiss upon it.
The show by Heide and Alley effectively combines Irish wit and history in song and folklore.
The program opens and closes with the traditional Irish song “Star of County Down” (reminding fans of the folk group Blarney there is competition in them thar woods).
The night of musical storytelling makes great use of the talents of other AFT cast members Karen Mal, Suzanne Graff, Kelly Brainard and Jeffrey Herbst.
Not only can the cast sing, tell tall tales and jokes but they are adept at playing the pennywhistle, mandolin, concertina and bohran (an Irish drum).
As has become their trademark, the American Folklore Theatre deftly weaves together threads of history, culture and music to create a weft that envelopes [sic] the audience in the warmth, laughter and often-times pain of by-gone days.
Ireland being Ireland, the AFT show is not all fun and frivolity.
The Great Potato Famine of the mid-19th Century figures prominently in Malarkey as do the tragic mass emigrations to America which followed in the wake of the famine.
While this season’s show shies away from “The Troubles” which embattle Northern Ireland this very day, the creators of the show are not afraid to speak out against the bigotry and prejudice which faced the Irish who came to America in the presentation “No Irish Need Apply.”
Those who have traveled to the Emerald Isle and who have listened to the tales of Mother Ireland’s woes will recognize the melancholy air in the poignant narration by Herbst of the Story of Oisin and Heide’s original song “Land of the Ever Young.”
The mosquitoes aren’t as bad as expected during this wet season and the AFT kindly supplies insect repellent for the audience. The only complaint of this reviewer was the lack of directional signs showing the way to the amphitheatre. But even if you make a wrong turn in the park coming from Ephraim, the views are spectacular and the AFT performances are worth a little extra trouble to get there.