The Pride of Parnell Street
Act II Playhouse
David Whalen in The Pride of Parnell Street. Photo by Bill D'Agostino.
Act II Playhouse produced the regional premiere of Irish playwright Sebastian Barry's The Pride of Parnell Street, winner of the Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play. The show depicts a marriage characterized by deep love followed by vicious abuse. Due to the sensitive nature of the content, Act II collaborated closely with the Women's Center of Montgomery County to raise consciousness about violence against women and to co-host a number of ancillary programs, including a public lecture by a psychologist specializing in family therapy and a symposium on domestic violence. The executive director of the Women's Center wrote in the organization's newsletter, "I had a nagging concern that the play might romanticize the relationship or cast some share of blame on the victim for the events that occurred. [...] I have been overwhelmed and impressed with the play/players sincerity and commitment to capturing the raw spectrum of emotion with realism and truth." Following the production, Act II felt that engaging with difficult material had strengthened their artistic profile, engaged subscribers, and attracted new audiences, including Irish-Americans.