★★★★ - Review

"The Treasure of Tralee"

University Theatre

Luck o' the Irish, witches, a ghost and a legendary treasure set the basis for a cute little play titled "The Treasure of Tralee," the third annual children's play produced by Mississippi State University Theatre.

 

The play, written by Sam Smiley, an old college friend of MSU President Donald Zacharias, focuses on a teenage boy, Packy O'Connor (Roy Adkins), and his older sister, Pegeen O'Connor (Marissa Hudspeth).

 

Their father has gone off to fight in the Crusades and has not been seen in seven years. The ghost of one of Packy's ancestors (Shana Graves) appears and warns him of a ruthless Englishman, Harry of Monmouth (Bill Dunsford), who will soon arrive and claim the rights to O'Connor Castle. She also offers a riddle which holds the key to the family's long-lost treasure.

 

Harry of Monmouth comes, hears from two gypsies (Casey Gillespie and Rob McMahan) of the supposed treasure and plots to make it his own.

 

Two mysterious strangers also come to town (Joe Dan White and Shane McRae) and offer their help against the evil Harry of Monmouth.

 

The players also encounter three witches (Cynthia Bennett, Ann Shillingsburg and Gillespie).

 

Although their constant, high pitched chanting in unison tends to become slightly irritating, their brief appearances are worth seeing because of their definitive witch costumes and make-up.

 

The play is set in Ireland, and the actors attempt the authentic accents, only to come out more muddled than Celtic. Only Adkins' accent remains accurate throughout the play, most of the others just drift in and out. Dunsford, who portrays the only non-Irish character, performs a perfect upper-class English accent.

 

There is some very good acting, and even though the emotions are simply on the surface of the characters, it is appropriate for a children's play.

 

The set looks very professional, and the special effects, including mist and lightning, will entrance children and adults alike. Thumbs up to set designer Wayne Durst and his crew.

 

Punctuated with a hilariously well-choreographed fight scene and the classic fairy tale happy ending, director Nate Bynum has another great play on his hands.

 

Some kids may need a few lines explained to them, but they should understand the gist of the play.

 

Overall “The Treasure of Tralee” proves entertaining, enjoyable and a special treat for the young in age and young at heart. Hopefully you, too, will walk away with a wee bit o' Irish magic and love.

 

Performances are today and tomorrow at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students, children and senior citizens (upon request).

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