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The Seven Wonders of Ballyknock: Theater Review

Luck of the Irish.

The Seven Wonders of Ballyknock aren't too impressive. "The eighth is my arse!" says Mag (Marilyn Stacey), proprietor of the Cap 'n' Bells pub. But her lumbering, amiable son Jonty (Heath Koerschgen)—the only boy from this sleepy Irish town to return from the recently ended World War II—is obsessed with them. So when Cordelia (Louise Chambers), a New York blue blood with a mysterious connection to Ballyknock, shows up, Jonty jumps at the chance to play tour guide. As you might expect from a play about Ireland by an American—in this case, Oregonian C.S. Whitcomb—there are a lot of jokes about drinking and a lot of grating pronunciations of "tea." But there's also another Irish tradition: quick wit. Set entirely in the bar—the lights go dim for the outdoor scenes—with a fairly small cast, this Lakewood Theatre production is carried instead by expert timing and sassy punches. "I've never stole in my 60 years," says town drunk Old Bailey when asked to watch the bar. "Put it on my tab." Director Stephanie Mulligan helps the cast find a careful balance between jaunty humor and the play's darker elements. Jonty's geniality betrays the scars he bears from war, and Cordelia harbors dark secrets of her own. Maybe the eighth wonder is the townspeople themselves. Or, y'know, Mag's ass.

SEE IT: The Seven Wonders of Ballyknock is at the Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S State St., Lake Oswego, 635-3901. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 and 7 pm some Sundays; 7:30 pm Wednesdays, Jan. 21 and Feb. 4. See for full schedule. Through Feb. 15. $30-$32.