Ireland’s uneasy neutrality during World War II, the country’s deep-rooted conflict with Britain and the divide between Catholics and Protestants serve as both backdrop and catalyst for one Irish family’s personal struggles in a solid staging of Frank McGuinness’ seriocomic, Chekhovian domestic drama, “Dolly West’s Kitchen,” running through Dec. 4 at Theatre Banshee in Burbank.
Director McKerrin Kelly’s observant approach, a fully committed cast and earthy humor prevent the play from sagging under the weight of its heavier dramatic notes. What at length boils to the surface is both expected and unexpected, albeit with a too-contemporary explication of issues of sexual identity.
Of the three adult West siblings, only independent Dolly (a quietly compelling Kirsten Kollender) left the comfortable family home in County Donegal near the Ulster border. Studying art at Trinity College, she became a successful restaurateur in Italy until the rise of Mussolini, and prudence, brought her back.