Ironbound: Theater review by Adam Feldman
For Darja (Marin Ireland), love always involves some negotiation of financial terms. She’s not a sex worker, but she’s a working-class woman with some sex appeal who can’t afford, she thinks, to be naive. When we meet her in Martyna Majok’s unsentimental Ironbound, she is a Polish-accented immigrant in her early forties, scraping out a living as a cleaning woman amid the rubble of industrial New Jersey. (That’s a step down from her job at a now-closed factory, but better than when she was sleeping on the street, on the run from an abusive husband.) When her boyfriend (Morgan Spector) is unfaithful, she is hurt—and also plays that hurt as a bargaining chip. She has a heart, but she deals with it.
Majok’s topical and insightful drama, skillfully directed by Daniella Topol, moves back and forth in time to show us a younger Darja with her first husband (Josiah Bania), a good-looking Pole with an American dream of musical stardom, and a young man (Shiloh Fernandez) whose choices throw Darja's in clearer relief. Onstage for all 85 minutes of the play—and wrung through a harsh machinery of pride, hope, desperation and regret—the excellent Ireland digs in and delivers a tough, moving portrait of a woman stuck in place.—Adam Feldman
Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre (Off Broadway). By Martyna Majok. Directed by Daniella Topol. With Marin Ireland. Running time: 1hr 25mins.
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