Blue moonlight falls through the window of an all-white kitchen, hitting a small mirror on the table and bouncing back onto the steel blade of a knife in the hand of a somber young boy. He has carefully sterilized his own ear in preparation. When a muffled noise offstage stops his next, disturbing action, the boy skulks into the shadows without anyone knowing what almost happened.
What is out of sight is what matters most in Nancy Harris' suspenseful, domestic drama from Corrib Theatre.
In the light of day, the kitchen is crowded with boxes of glass bottles containing a thick yellow liquid. Everything and everyone here seems suspect thanks to the eerily suburban, detailed set. It's only olive oil, imported from Italy, a new business venture for mompreneur Hazel.
Privileged, pissed and pregnant—a terrifying combination, and she knows it—Hazel has written to her husband, Richard, for help. He is heroically away, fixing burn victims in war-torn countries in his role as a doctor without borders. To cover his absence, Richard hires a nanny named Annie (without consulting his wife). For Hazel, the only thing worse than not being able to do it all is to be seen failing.
Our New Girl is a show made of tense dialogue and fierce gazes. Annie (Paige McKinney) watches Hazel's mistakes and makes notes in her journal. Richard (Todd Van Voris) watches his patients, prescribes pills and leaves. Their son Daniel (Atticus Salmon) gets reprimanded at school for his "aggressive staring."
Fitting Corrib Theatre's trend of dark Irish plays, the show mines its characters and script for the drama. Portland mainstay Nikki Weaver is a perfectly restrained Hazel, lips pursed as she contemplates her failure—not being a gorgeous Italian woman who effortlessly feeds a baby while kneading bread, running a vineyard and wearing stilettos. Usually a firecracker onstage, Weaver plays worn-out here. Her mom bob is a bit mousy, and her biceps look thin sticking out of a baggy jumper.
We get stuck with things we don't like, posits Harris' Girl. Sometimes that is your child wanting a poisonous pet instead of a puppy or your patients' gruesome injuries in abysmal conditions. For audiences enjoying director Gemma Whelan's finely curated mini-season, though, this fourth and final show feels anything but stuck.