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Transport Transcends Time & Place at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Transport transports the audience back to the 1800's. Together the audience joins the cast on The Whisper - a ship sailing from Cork to Sydney, Australia - but, this is no pleasure cruise. It is the journey of Irish women sentenced to exile. Transport is based on a book by Thomas Keneally with lyrics and music by Larry Kirwan of the band Black 47.

Transport Transcends Time & Place at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City

Transport is the story of an "undesirable" woman's turbulent trek with a cast that includes an exiled Irish priest. The narrative is based on an account from the great-grandmother of Keneally's wife Judy. The girl was deported from Ireland at the age of 20 for stealing a bolt of cloth. She was part of the scheme to propagate Australia where hardened criminals had already been imprisoned in penal colonies. Transport transcends place and time with people who reflected that period's perspectives. It is a haunting tale of humanity as told through Irish and Australian music.

Transport will run from February 7 through April 6, 2014 at the Irish Repertory Theater in Chelsea, New York. The venue located at 132 W 22nd Street opened in 1988. It is committed to expanding and sharing the Irish/Irish American experience through classical and contemporary productions. went back in time with Transport on the afternoon of March 1, 2014.

The stage set-up was stark and simple. We heard the sounds of the sea along with the rattle of chains as the women walked down the aisle of the theater to the ship. As the guards stood watch the four ladies sang their sorrowful stories with a desire to stay in Ireland in "Bas In Erin". The men running the boat also have their tales of troubles as told through dialogue and songs.

Shadowy lighting added to the atmosphere of despair. Simple props such as a ramp with the ladies huddled under it conveyed the cramped quarters that the exiles endured. Death was common on these trips and it haunted The Whisper. The soundtrack throughout the production was a blend of rock and traditional Irish music which kept the pace up despite the pensive prose of the play.

For us this production was about the individuals and how their stories intertwined with the others. One woman wanted to take over the ship and set a course to America. The troupe danced and sang about "Dreams of New York". Another Protestant girl conveyed her loneliness in "A Stranger in My Own Country". Sexual tensions along with real romances were touched upon in the rousing "Raging Heart" along with other songs in act two.

The Whisper traveled through cold, heat and storms both emotionally and physically. Yet, as in real life the characters held on to hope and love as declared in the animated closing number "Australia". The cast of The Whisper were a capable crew of artists all with fine credentials thus able to transcend time and place in the thought provoking and provocative Transport.

Related Links: For more information on TRANSPORT and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Irish Repertory Theatre

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