The Mountains Look Different is the story of Bairbre’s return home to Ireland, after a dozen hard years in London working the streets. Three days ago, she married Tom, who knows nothing of her past. Together they hope to settle with Tom’s father on his farm, and live a simple life far from the temptations and torments of the sinful city. But soon they will learn that it’s not easy for anyone to escape their past, even among the rocks and ruins of the mountainside.

A forgotten 1948 drama by Micheál mac Liammóir has been polished to a becoming shimmer at Theater Row…What’s alluring here is the storytelling, by both mac Liammóir and the actors, whose across-the-board restraint roots the characters in reality throughout.

The New York Times

The idea for the play struck mac Liammóir after working on Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie. He wondered what happened to Anna after the fall of the curtain. Then one day he saw a young married woman in Connemara looking out of the window at a motorcar who said with the slight hint of a London accent in her voice, “They look different from what they did when I was little—the mountains, I mean.”

Mountains stoked controversy in conservative Dublin in 1948. One night, two men left their seats at intermission and asked the audience to join with them in leaving the theater. Shouts of “Sit down” and “If you don’t like it leave” came from the audience; the ushers started towards the men, then the orchestra began to play and drowned out the protest. A handful of theatergoers left and the next day, every paper in Dublin told the story.

The play continued without interruption and received an enthusiastic ovation, including calls for the author. mac Liammóir himself played the role of Tom, so of course he heard the protest,but he said nothing. Later, he told the Irish Independent “that he believed the men who made the protest were sincere, but that it was a pity they had not waited to hear what the play had to say in the final act.”

Micheál mac Liammóir was a legendary figure, his death in 1978 was front-page news in the Irish Times for three days running. His obituary described him as “the dominant figure in the Irish theatrical world for almost half a century” . “Hundreds Mourn MacLiammóir” was the headline describing the scene in the church the day of his funeral. Ireland’s President Dr. Hillery, “joined actors, artists, writers, Irish language enthusiasts and hundreds of people who had simply enjoyed his performances in mourning.”

The dominant figure in the Irish theatrical world for almost half a century.

The Irish Times

President Hillery proclaimed:

The death of Micheál mac Liammóir leaves a deep void in Irish cultural life. His passing grieves not only the people of Ireland—it will be felt by the many elsewhere who also knew him, as an actor, outstanding and versatile dramatist, poet, man of letters. He dedicated his life to Ireland and offered her all the splendid gifts which he could give in so rich and diverse a manner, serving her and her cultural life generously and nobly.

Headlines continued the next day, detailing the graveside tributes. Appropriately, the papers gave much attention to mac Liammóir’s partner of 50 years, Hilton Edwards. “I am unashamedly inconsolable at his loss,” Edwards told the Irish Times. Together they founded the Gate Theatre in 1928 and revolutionized Irish theatre, introducing Dublin theatergoers to important works by European and American dramatists, as well as new plays by Irish dramatists.

Over the course of five decades, mac Liammóir himself captivated Dubliners and global audiences with his prolific work as an actor-playwright-designer. Marrying modern settings with mythic stories and themes, mac Liammóir’s plays included the fantasies Where Stars Walk (1940) and Ill Met by Moonlight (1946), as well as The Mountains Look Different (1948), and the autobiographical Prelude in Kazbek Street (1973). The Gate Theater produced The Mountains Look Different in 1948. mac Liammóir played the role of Tom and designed the scenery, Hilton Edwards was the director, and designed the lights.

mac Liammóir delighted theater audiences for 50 years, playing innumerable roles. He enjoyed his greatest international success with his 1960 one-man show about Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Oscar, which toured the world and brought him great acclaim. More than a vehicle for mac Liammóir, other actors perform this play often, and to great success.



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Ciaran Byrne
Liam Forde
McKenna Quigley Harrington
Con Horgan
Cynthia Mace
Daniel Marconi
Brenda Meaney
Paul O’Brien
Jesse Pennington


Sets: Vicki R. Davis
Costumes: Andrea Varga
Lights: Christian DeAngelis
Sound: M. Florian Staab
Props: Chris Fields
Dialects & Dramaturgy: Amy Stoller
Music Direction: Heather Martin Bixler
Music recorded by: Heather Martin Bixler, Tom Dunne
Casting: Stephanie Klapper, CSA
Production Stage Manager: Jeff Meyers
Stage Manager: Christine J. Colonna
Illustration: Stefano Imbert
Graphics: Hey Jude Design, Inc.
Press: David Gersten & Associates

Aidan Redmond and the Design Team

Meet our design team and peek into the creative process with director Aidan Redmond and his team. Mint Artistic Director Jonathan Bank will moderate this panel discussion.

"I was always being somebody else" The Theatre of Micheál mac Liammóir
Maya Cantu, Bennington College

Maya Cantu will discuss the amazing biography of our author, the man born Alfred Willimore in 1899. Maya is on the Drama Faculty at Bennington and Dramaturgical Advisor to the Mint. She received a D.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale School of Drama. Her book American Cinderellas on the Broadway Stage: Imagining the Working Girl from “Irene” to “Gypsy” is available through Palgrave Macmillan.

"Anna Christie" and The Mountains Look Different
Zander Brietzke

Micheál mac Liammóir writes that the inspiration for The Mountains Look Different came after working on Anna Christie at the Gate Theatre. Zander Brietzke will help us understand what he meant. Brietzke is a former president of the Eugene O’Neill Society and editor of the Eugene O’Neill Review. He has published one monograph on O’Neill, The Aesthetics of Failure (McFarland 2001), and finished another, “Magnum Opus: The Extant Cycle Plays of Eugene O’Neill,” under contract at Yale University Press (est. pub. date in 2020). Other books include Action and Consequence in Ibsen, Chekhov and Strindberg (2017), American Drama in the Age of Film (2007) and two editions of Teaching with the Norton Anthology of Drama (2009, 2014). He has taught at Columbia University, Montclair State, The College of Wooster in Ohio and Lehigh University.




a podcast presented through RTÉ’s Documentary on One


This podcast provides an affectionate look at the life and legacy of Micheál MacLiammóir twenty years after his death. It features actor, Bill Golding, biographer, Christopher Fitz-Simon and former Managing Director of The Gate Theatre, Mary Cannon. Throughout this documentary we hear extracts of MacLiammóir, including him reading Padraic Pearse’s poem “Mise Éire”.

Click here to listen.