"It's a bit like The Glass Menagerie with actual nightmares...an amazing, sentimental thrill ride." Steven Leigh Morris,
Performance rights for BANSHEE are available through NEXT STAGE PRESS. Click on the logo for information.
Press the play button on the left to hear "Banshee" by LUCKY MUD, featured in the NYCFringe production with their kind permission.
Banshee takes place on the West Side of Manhattan in 1981. The play begins as Jerry Sullivan (Junior)
readies himself for his new job following a two month stint in an psychiatric ward. His Irish-born mother
Kit makes him breakfast, much against his will. Junior's brother Neil, a policeman, arrives to drive him to
work. Before Neil leaves, Kit implores him to look after his brother. During the ride to the NY docks Neil
discusses setting the 40-year-old Junior up with a younger woman he knows, who is also an Irish native.
Junior isn't ready. He is greeted rudely by a truck driver at his new position.
Months later Neil and Junior are at a Yankee game, where again Neil brings up the idea of setting Junior
up. Junior demurs, but a close call with a home run ball changes his mind. He takes Cara out to eat, and
after some initial reservations about her having a child and him being older and recently hospitalized, the
two hit it off. Junior brings Cara to the apartment he shares with his mother for a cup of tea. Kit interrupts
them and treats Cara with suspicion. Junior gets Kit to go back to bed and, despite Kit's best efforts, Cara
agrees that she and Junior should continue to see each other.
Kit wakes Junior in the middle of the night claiming to have been visited by her dead husband. He passed
on a one-word warning: “banshee”. Kit insists that the mythical Irish harbinger of death is Junior's new
girlfriend Cara. Jerry angrily dismisses the idea, but experiences a recurring dream where someone is
trying to help him and he cannot move. He wakes, seemingly in bed with Cara, but when he tells Cara
about what his mother said, she bolts upright in the bed and lets out an unearthly scream.
The second act begins with Neil and Junior having lunch, discussing Kit's visitation. Neil is sure Kit is
trying to discourage Junior's new relationship by making up the banshee story. Junior is not convinced,
having seen Kit's frightened reaction. Also, his dreams are becoming more troublesome: he's in an
emergency room after his suicide attempt, which turns into Kit berating him for his weakness, and ends
again in a horrible scream.
Junior wakes up in Cara's bed, in reality this time. He tells her he isn't ready for their relationship and is
beginning to doubt his own sanity. After another run-in with a driver, Junior meets with an admitting
psychiatrist to check himself into a hospital. While Neil is bringing Kit to visit Junior in his squad car, he
warns her to stop trying to ruin her son's relationship. Kit insists that the visitation was real, and that Cara
is dangerous. Meanwhile, Cara visits Jerry in the hospital, where he is attempting to hide from his demons
with medications. She tells him she and her daughter will wait for him, but not forever. On the way out,
Cara meets Neil and a suspicious Kit in the hallway. Cara tells Kit she would never hurt Junior, which Kit
interprets as a threat against herself.
Even through the medication, Junior has another disturbing dream about being at a murder scene with his
brother. It ends with a haunting phone call and another banshee scream. Junior checks himself out,
realizing he cannot hide. He returns to his apartment and tells Kit he is moving in with Cara, who is on
her way over to help him pack. With Junior in the other room and Cara on her way up to the apartment, a
desperate Kit grabs a frying pan and heads out into the hallway to confront her. There is a scream. Cara
rushes in to tell Junior that Kit fell down the stairs and isn't moving. Junior runs to care for his mother,
leaving Cara onstage alone. A small smile crosses her face.
Jerry Sullivan (Junior), M, 40: A man trying rebuild his shattered life—at turns charming and
melancholy, dominated yet fighting to survive. Susceptible to his mother's guilt. His stoic exterior guards
his fear of relapsing into mental illness.
Neil, M, 38: Junior's brother, a NYC policeman. Gregarious and optimistic, but savvy. Authentically
cares for his brother and tries to help him through his struggles.
Kit, F, 57: Junior's overbearing, controlling, doting Irish mother. Eternally a martyr and convinced she
knows what is best for her son. She cares in all the wrong ways and manipulates without conscience.
Cara, F, 27: Fresh Irish young woman who becomes Junior's girlfriend. A single parent, down-to-earth,
sincere, understanding: seemingly Junior's perfect match.
Driver, M, 40+: Foul-mouthed Italian-American truck driver who initially challenges Junior at his new
job, yet grudgingly becomes friendly with him.
"Banshee a fascinating experience and the play itself is an intriguing work that has much to
offer, including two particularly fantastic, creepy moments and a handful of touching scenes. It’s a
curious mix of American angst and melancholic Irish fantasy—think Arthur Miller and Conor
McPherson collaborating on a rewrite of The Beauty Queen of Leenane..." Nat Cassidy, nytheatre.com
"This is a play that can be appreciated on many levels: as the story of an Irish-American mother reluctant to let go of her grown son; as a man’s psychological odyssey to regain his sanity; and as a spooky, supernatural thriller...a well-written and well-performed play." Alan J. Miller, Theater is Easy
"Brian C. Petti's Irish drama is an ungimmicky, affecting exploration of a sad chapter in his family's history that avoids clichés as it keeps us pulling for its likable hero." Marc Miller, BACKSTAGE
"...a blend of an old-fashioned ghost story and a kitchen sink family drama–has moments of real sweetness, intervals of flagrant family dysfunction and a minute or two of genuinely gut-wrenching horror.." F. Kathleen Foley, LA Times