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‘Shining City’ a Tony Award-nominated Irish ghost story

Colin Jones and Brian Haney star in “Shining City.” Courtesy of Jason Ponic Photography

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — To exist is to be alone in Conor McPherson’s haunting “Shining City.”

In Dublin, John seeks help from an untried counselor because he keeps seeing his dead wife. The counselor Ian is a former priest struggling with his loss of faith.

This Irish ghost story opens at the Mother Road Theatre on Friday, Feb. 28, running on weekends through March 15.

Ian is wrestling with his faith, his new life and his sexuality.

“He’s trying to figure out if this is the world he wants to live in,” director Vic Browder said. “Irish Catholics are extremely guilt-ridden. He’s gotten his girlfriend pregnant. He’s wrestling with his sexuality, his faith and his place in the world. The veil between the spiritual and the natural world becomes very thin.”

John is so terrified of his dead wife’s appearances that he has moved out of his house.

“He’s guilt-ridden because he thinks he killed his wife emotionally and psychologically,” Browder said. “There was some abuse that drove her to be in this specific place and time. She dies in a car accident.”

Each approaches their halting conversations with anguish and inadequacy.

John slowly comes to accept his dead wife’s appearances until she disappears.

“He’s turning himself around while the therapist digs himself a hole,” Browder said.

A Mother Road founder, Browder also directed McPherson’s “The Weir” in 2008. “Shining City” opened on Broadway in 2006, where it received two Tony Award nominations.

McPherson “knows these people,” Browder added. “He’s sat in bars with these people.”

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