Conor McPherson's award winning play ( the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award) follows its sell-out run in the Theatre Upstairs last year with a run in the larger Theatre Downstairs and looks like having another sell-out run. Born in Dublin 1971, Conor McPherson's plays include This Lime Tree Bower and St Nicholas..
Directed by Ian Rickson, the newly appointed Artistic Director of the Royal Court, The Weir is eerie and entrancing, and keeps you captivated for the whole 1 hour 45 minutes of the play, with no interval.
The story, set in a small pub in a remote part of Ireland, begins with the landlord and two of his regular customers, Jack and Jim, chatting about the weather and other unimportant events. However, when Finbar a local man who made good, comes to the pub with Valerie to whom he has just sold a house, the conversation turns to a ghostly happening in the house she has just bought. Each man recounts a ghostly incident that happened to him at some stage in hisr past life. And Valerie has a traumatic story of her own to tell!!
The play is full of rich characters all fully exploited by a wonderful cast: Brendan Coyle as Brendan the gloomy but kind bar-owner; Kieran Ahern as Jim, a bachelor in his 40s; Des McAleer as the lustful Finbar; and Julia Ford as the woman haunted by her past. All are good, but the best performance is from Jim Norton's as Jack, a cantankerous man in his 50s. He says he doesn't regret that he's never married but it is clear he does.
The popular press has been most complimentary about the play. Nicholas de Jongh of The Evening Standard describes it as a "canny, beautifully acted production". Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph said, "I have rarely been so convinced that I have just seen a modern classic". Bill Hagerty of The News of the World described it as "both funny and touching" and John Peter of The Sunday Times said, "This is a wonderful play, acted with a delicate but eloquent restraint".
This is not a play to see if you are feeling tired. You see, it's so quiet and relaxing that it's a bit like sitting in front of a log fire reading a good book -- even though you like the book, you still start to feel sleepy. It all adds up to a charming and touching play about missed opportunities, loneliness, haunted memories and love.
Also check out our review of Conor McPherson's St. Nicholas at New York's Primary Stages where the playwright also directs.
July 29, 1998: Watch for a New York production in February 1999!
The Weir Opened at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs (formally known as the Duke of York's) 2/23/98 (hrough 4/18/98 )
St Martin's Lane, WC2H 4BG, Leicester Sq. Station (Tel: 0171 565 5000
Directed by Ian Rickson
Starring Kieran Ahern, Brendan Coyle, Julia Ford and Jim Norton
Reviewed by Darren Dalglish 2/28/98