PORTLAND – The time is 1965. The place is the fictional town of Ballybeg in County Donegal. The play is “Philadelphia, Here I Come!,” Brian Friel’s classic tale of emigration.

In this touching play, the spotlight is on Gar O’Donnell, a young man preparing to leave his home in Ireland for a new start in America. On the night before O’Donnell flies off to Philadelphia, his excitement about the future collides poignantly with his feelings about the past as he says goodbye to the people he loves, especially his silent father and the girl he loved and lost.

“Philadelphia, Here I Come!” will run Thursday through Thursday, April 24-May 11, at the Studio Theater at the Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

In discussing “Philadelphia, Here I Come!,” playwright Brian Friel commented, “I don’t think it was altogether an emigrant play. It was as much about a boy, belatedly becoming a man; a relationship between a father and son not coming to fruition; and a love affair that never flowered simply because of incoherence or shyness.”

To explore these issues, Friel uses the dramatic device of having two actors portray Gar – the outwardly awkward and inarticulate “Gar Public” (Ian Carlsen) who interacts with the world, and the verbal and emotional “Gar Private” (Nathan Amadon) who represents his inner thoughts and feelings.

Tickets are $17 general admission, $13 for seniors and students and on Thursdays. Thursday, April 24, is pay-what-you-can night. For reservations, call 799-5327 or go to www.airetheater.com.

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