The Power of the Press

I’ve been posting too frequently lately. After this update. I shall resume a sedate once-a-month-if-that routine. It’s the bushfires in Australia that have me so riled. A national emergency and an international crisis – anyway enough of that and plenty of my opinion in previous posts.


The astonishing power of a good review in a major newspaper…!

Elliot-Joseph-Evan-Zes-Ian-Holcomb-Brian-Keane-Colin-McPhillamy-and-Caroline-Strang-in-the-2019-production-of-LONDON-ASSURANCE-at-Irish-Rep-Photo-by-Carol-Rosegg-1024x683 2.jpg

From left to right: Those splendid actors Elliot Joseph, Evan Zes, Ian Holcomb, Brian Keane, Caroline Strang, and some portly bloke down right in the frame… photo by Carol Rosegg. 

We opened on the 15th December to some frankly glowing feedback from (in my opinion) a group of enlightened, perceptive, life-affirming critics in several publications and blogs of the greater NYC area. Except the mighty New York Times, where the opinion was at best mildly positive, but not enough to make you want to mash your smartphone and get on to the box office at the Irish Rep 212 727 2737


The wonderful Rachel Pickup and, quoting from the New York Theatre Guide: “Colin McPhillamy … He plays it all for fun even launching his considerable girth in surprising leaps that recall a vaudevillian’s trick.”

Consequently our business was a very respectable 80% to 90%, nice, but with comedy it’s even nicer when you can’t get a seat.


Almost two weeks later Terry Teachout published his review in the Wall Street Journal. A rave. Sidebar: the WSJ may require you to subscribe to access the full review, my recommendation is just to come and see the show instead!

The phones began to ring off the hook. We are now almost sold out for the rest of the run. We’re due to close 01/26 and if you did plan to see the show, please organize a ticket before they put up the HOUSE FULL signs!

Happy New Year!



15 replies on “The Power of the Press”

Hi There– well I was going to save this until the end of the run–but why not share now? I like to send my impressions to Ciarán whom I’ve known for over 40 years– we played the protagonists in Playboy of the Western World at the IAC– many years ago— so I write reviews just for fun from what I call the “Blankpage Chronicle.” It doesn’t count for much but thought you might like to read it anyway. Maybe you can answer my question (below) about a bit of business near the end of the play– Brilliant one and all! Slán, M. Ps: I don’t understand why the entire world or even our allies and US are not coming to Australia’s rescue — are we so much like chimps that we only run when we’re face-to-face danger? Their nightmare is truly breaking my heart.

From the Blankpage Chronicle:

Dear Charlotte, Ciarán, and Cast:

Bravo! A thousand times over! Kudos to you Charlotte! Magnificent! I know it’s been said that Dion Boucicault wrote melodramas, but this play is far more sophisticated than a linear ‘good versus evil’ melodrama. For one thing, the repartee is too witty by half, the plotline however ridiculous, is complex, and most importantly (and only the Irish can pull this off), the underlying political message is clearly anti-Empire! London Assurance is a beautifully constructed farce containing elements of ‘comédie française’ and ‘comedy of manners’ rolled into one. It’s nonlinear as are many Irish plays (and literature for that matter). The plotline twists and turns full circle into a Celtic knot—giving us a sense of infinity when it comes to human nature—as if this circular story is part of a larger cycle of human follies doomed to be forever repeated.

It takes a seasoned and savvy director and cast familiar with these combined genres to dip not too far down towards realism and not too ‘over the top’ towards melodrama. And you all did just that—on cue, on key! The pacing was flawless—another important component for pulling off a successful farce. The theatre business—the asides and so forth, were crisp and clean—not too large and not too subtle. The energy put into these mannerisms depended on each character’s modus-operandi. The actors were brilliant without exception. Each actor’s timing, according to his or her character, hit the laughter bullseye time after time—perfection! We the audience picked up on the sheer ecstasy actors feel when they finally have an on-board audience ready for the ride.

Ciarán, you asked me why we come to previews—well, it has to do with our being thespians (an innate gift that never dissipates however far-a-field one strays), and with that, a sense of moral obligation to support our fellow actors when they are most vulnerable (we’ve been there!)—and even though we’re not on stage proper, we feel part of the play as audience members. This is the time when a burgeoning ensemble, still finding its land legs like a new born calf, needs empathy and heart-felt support regardless of mishaps, missteps, or missed lines.

Here’s a question for you— when Lady Gay Spanker drops her handkerchief and Sir. Courtly deftly picks it up then whips out his own handkerchief and in a flutter of excitement, dances it around her and she her handkerchief around him—was this business choreographed or did the actors engage in an impromptu moment that can deliciously arise from mishap? Roy and I both picked up on this as impromptu. Either way it was a gem bit of business!

Finally, we did not miss the sobering relevance when, at the end, Dazzle’s English cadence gives way to an Irish brogue as if to say “We subjugated Irish will outwit you in the end!”

Have no fear, this show is going to receive rave reviews along with, I suspect, a demand for an extended run. We both loved, loved, loved being there! In these poisonous times laughter is a powerful antidote.

Devotedly Yours,
Marla & Roy

Marla Del Collins, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Arts and Humanities
Theatre Arts
Communication Studies

School of Arts & Communication
Journalism & Communication Studies Dept.
Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus
(332) 201 0240

Sent out your blog below to various of my NY friends and colleagues – all work in the theatre or film business.

If any one of them is able to get a ticket, and feels bold enough, I suggested they drop you a note and try to hook up with you post-show.

Wishing you a very happy, healthy and successful New Year 2020.

From your “London agent”!

Joan xx

Dear Colin, Wonderful news!

When the late great Harry Kippax finished a review with ‘Not to be missed’, the show quickly sold out.

I’m keen to know your and Trish’s responses to those two Irish Australian plays.

Happy new year and love to you both, Terry

On Fri, 3 Jan 2020 at 5:40 am, McPhillamyActorBlog wrote:

> Colin McPhillamy posted: “I’ve been posting too frequently lately. After > this update. I shall resume a sedate once-a-month-if-that routine. It’s the > bushfires in Australia that have me so riled. A national emergency and an > international crisis – anyway enough of that and plenty of” >

Happy New Year, Terry. Sorry the mills of theatrical response move exceeding slow as you know. My prospective producer is still away on holiday but I will follow up as soon as I can – probably early Feb and get back to you after that…

Thank you, Colin! Attention must be paid! Bless your willingness to continue to ring the emergency bell about Climate Change! My heart aches for Australia and her people! And for our planet!

Congratulations on your show and your glowing reviews. AND you selling-out box office! We had such a wonderful time watching you and this delicious cast!

Here we go, marching into 2020! We wish you Peace and Love and Courage and Laughter,

Jenny and Bob xxoo🥰

Sent from my iPhone


Many congratulations, but sincere worry for Australia and the world. And love to you and Trish in this new year.

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