Irish playwright Conor McPherson’s searing examination of two lonely men trying to cope in an unforgiving world, “Shining City” gets its first post-Broadway regional production in this sensitive mounting by D.C.’s Studio Theater. Studio a.d. Joy Zinoman and a perceptive cast tap a rich vein of drama and insight from McPherson’s moving play.
Edward Gero plays a middle-aged man wracked with guilt over the gruesome death of his wife in an auto accident. He pours out his troubles to therapist Ian (Donald Carrier), who is battling demons of his own. Ian has recently left the priesthood after losing his faith and is trying to chart a new personal course.
During this tight one-act play, the two parallel sagas offer an engrossing perspective on human travails, embellished with a ghostly twist.
Both Gero and Carrier provide rich portrayals of emotionally troubled characters, especially in extended monologues that flesh out their respective plights. Ditto Laoisa Sexton as the exasperated mother of Ian’s child, who in her single poignant scene captures the frustrations of every abandoned parent. Chris Genebach also delivers a nice turn as a compassionate hustler.
Within McPherson’s frank and accessible dialogue is an array of universal themes pertaining to morality and spirituality. The bountiful script demands a deft touch, which Zinoman and company skillfully provide. The production is yet another example of the high quality of work consistently presented by Studio, now in its 30th anniversary season.