REVIEW: Inis Nua’s Charolais is a Bovine Comedy

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Corinna Burns and Friends in Charolais at Inis Nua.

Take it from Siobhan: rural Ireland isn’t all jigs and soda bread. Farm life is alternately dull and strenuous, especially when (like Siobhan) you’re very pregnant. Live-in boyfriend Jimmy isn’t much help, and his awful mother, Breda, a devoted practitioner of disapproving Catholic “patience,” is even worse. As if this weren’t enough, lately Jimmy is besotted with a flirtatious French cow who thinks she’s better than everybody else. And—get this—the cow’s pregnant, too!

Before you criticize my terminology, let me point out that the cow really is a cow—the titular Charolais, in fact, which is a pretty highfalutin breed. Nonetheless—she’s cattle.

Noni Stapleton’s one-hour, one-actor play takes on all this with droll, scabrous good humor. Best of all, Siobhan (and her assorted companions) are played here by the wonderful Corinna Burns, a born storyteller. Burns is a familiar face from the terrific work she’s done for Inis Nua and other companies, but she shines especially brightly here, in a role (or should I say roles plural) that taps into her multifaceted talent. As Siobhan, she’s dry, mordant, and wins us entirely to her side. And she’s surely the most charming heifer I’ve seen since Rose Louise and Baby June shared tap-dancing cow-duty.

Charolais is part of Inis Nua’s delightful Pop-Up Play in a Pub series, which means the admission price not only includes the show (presented in the intimate upstairs space at Fergie’s), but also a drink and a savory pie (veggie or meat—given the subject matter, I recommend the former). Tickets go fast, so book soon. Trust me, it’s worth it for the show—and Burns—alone.

Charolais has performances through May 30. For more information, visit the Inis Nua Theatre website.

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