Colm Magner in The Scavenger's Daughter. Photo by Dixie Sheridan.
BOTTOM LINE: Colm Magner delivers a well-written, moving and sometimes funny tribute to his late twin brother drawing on their Irish heritage and spirited history.
Losing a twin brother is one of the hardest things a person could ever have to go through, even more so if he was the best drinking buddy imaginable. And no matter how much Colm Magner tries to shrug it off as just a fact of life, and hide behind his steely what-does-it-all-matter Irish exterior, the usual grieving process of drinking his sorrows away just won't cut it.
The Scavenger's Daughter, playing at the 4th Street Theatre as part of the NY Fringe Festival, is a tribute to Magner's late brother Finnegan, delivered by means of a very reminiscent, autobiographical and deliberately scattered monologue that takes the audience on a trip back through time, filled with motorcycle gangs, drugs, women, family, and of course, drinking.
This Irish-Canadian play is truly a remarkable piece of writing, and like many Irish plays it is infused with the tough soul of a 'never say die' attitude. It manages to convey both grit and sentimentality in the same breath, and Magner's delivery is strong and charismatic. But, as is often the case with playwrights performing their own pieces, it is sometimes too consistent in its tone.
Although the production does try very had to spice things up with the use of projections, lots of light changes and very frequent movement of set pieces, these devices end up being distracting and sometimes even sloppily executed. Why take one minute to set up a chair formation if you end up using it for only 10 seconds before you start to change it again? The projections, still images of beer, a urinal, a road, etc. come and go rather frequently and try to provide support to the writing, which is clearly the star of the show.
The Scavenger's Daughter (which, by the way, refers to the English torture device that forces a prisoner into a crouched position so that blood spills out of his orifices) is a moving and nicely delivered poetic testimony that is unfortunately burdened by everything else going on on stage, but Colm Magner's talent and stage presence make it well worth seeing.
(The Scavenger's Daughter plays at the 4th Street Theatre, 83 East 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue, through August 28th. Remaining performance is Saturday 8/28 at Noon. For more information visit thescavengersdaughter.org. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue. There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.)