Henley Street Theatre Company's “Shining City” is a modern-day ghost story, the ideal entertainment choice for a chilly October night. Set in contemporary Dublin, Ireland, the play is about how the manifestations of guilt and confusion affect people's relationships. The action takes place in the office of Ian (Larry Cook), a former priest turned therapist who struggles with major issues of his own.
A large part of the script is deftly presented via long monologues in the first and second scenes by Joe Inscoe, as Ian's ghost-seeing client, John. During these client and therapist sessions both Cook and Inscoe are marvels of concentration and characterization — Inscoe for his ability to translate incredibly long, realistic dialog; Cook for his discipline in holding character while remaining mostly quiet and still.
Inscoe is great at engaging the audience for the duration but at some point the sheer length of his monologue costs the attention of several audience members, as evidenced by some seat squirming and yawns. But the play is quickly rekindled when John goes into a story about an extramarital flirtation.
These rather one-sided therapy scenes are nicely balanced by scenes two and four in which tense moments are played out between Ian and his love interests, Neasa (Lyddall Bugg) and Laurence (Jacob Pennington). Bugg creates an earthy, womanly Neasa who fights for her livelihood as Ian dumps her. Pennington and Cook are appropriately awkward as Ian begins to explore his homosexual urges.
The tricks of “Shining City” are the clues to this story, hidden throughout the natural speech and the flip one has to constantly take from reality to the supernatural. At the creepy finale, my spine actually tingled.
“Shining City” runs on selected dates through Oct. 24 at Pine Camp Arts Center. Tickets are $15-$20. For information go to henleystreettheatre.org or call 340-0115.