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Monday, March 2, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 24.0° F  Overcast
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Leprechaun: Road to nowhere
A tour bus loses its way in Broom Street Theater's new show
Crazy fun, crazy annoying.
Crazy fun, crazy annoying.
Credit:Callen Harty

Playwright and director Callen Harty throws a lot at us in Broom Street Theater's Leprechaun, which follows an American couple touring Ireland in celebration of their first anniversary. Some of it is crazy fun, but some of it is crazy annoying. At points during the performance I had to shut my eyes for a few seconds to steal a little peace and quiet.

A friend pointed out that some of the wackiness accurately captures the realities of travel in Ireland: convoluted directions from locals, livestock blocking the road, multiple tour buses piling into a castle for a faux medieval experience.

Harty fares best with his dialogue for the tour-bus driver (Joseph Lutz) and self-proclaimed leprechaun and his wife (Siobhan Edge). They bicker, but unlike the irritating young American couple (Brandon McGirr and Rebecca Fischler), they suggest real tenderness under their crabby exteriors. Harty also has some insights into the nature of sightseeing, like rushing to famous destinations just so you can say you were there and snapping a quick picture to prove it.

The tour-bus premise is a clever way of introducing a host of nutty characters, but it goes over the top. I know from the press release that the play incorporates a puppet left outside the theater with a note explaining that the puppeteer had died. I appreciate the challenge of including the mystery puppet as a tribute, but the English-speaking puppet and Swedish-speaking puppeteer/tourist (Cassi Harris) are a cutesy contrivance, especially when you've already got an overzealous tourist (Shawn Patrick O'Brien) who keeps singing Irish classics and a pesky psychoanthroculturologist (Lauri Harty) onboard.

There is one moment that truly moved me. (No, it wasn't the drug-fueled hallucination in a cave complete with a translucent dildo used as a microphone.) Ben Doran sings "Four Green Fields" as the bus travels through the countryside. Doran's clear, beautiful voice and the affecting lyrics almost made all the shenanigans that came before and after worth it.

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