An honest, uncensored night at the pub where Irish storytelling is the cure to all ails. The Weir, Winner of the 1997 Olivier Award for Best New Play, is a must see. Conor McPherson’s chilling, modern classic comes to Cambridge as part of a UK tour to mark the play’s twentieth anniversary, and it is enchanting.
A stormy night, in a small Irish town, the locals exchange stories round the crackling fire of Brendan’s pub. Beer and whisky flows and the arrival of a young stranger, haunted by a secret from her past, unsettles the normative quality of pub repartee. A shadowy tale delving into the dark corners of human lives, The Weir embarks upon ‘The Fairy Road’ of folklore, and offers a Craic to indulge in.
Naturalistic in style, the subsequent genres are ones not often written about. Deviating between ghost stories before cutting to the hard truth, a script emerges which sends shivers up the spine. McPherson highlights the natural connection between human experience and interaction by placing the five characters in a space where through gossip and intrigue we witness their vulnerabilities.
From the pouring of the first Guinness to the last brandy, you are hooked. Never broken or disturbed by an interval, you are truly immersed within the pub setting. Moving through the action to witness each characters moment, we observe the striking stories brought to the pub and the comfort such establishment can produce. Jack the forgone hero, Finbar the relinquished local, Jim a cardigan wearing gentleman, Brendan the pub owner and often mediator and Valerie the stranger, produce a cumulative pathos.
Technically enhanced by the detailed set design, the working bar and props are a naturalistic hold for the actors. Moving with ease, this cast definitely know their way around a pub and a play it seems. An often symbolic lighting design aids the action, isolating character moments with cold lighting states and soft spotlights. Violin chords and the persistent sound of wind, enhances belief of the storm taking hold outside.
‘Are you having one?’ followed by a long pause, allows for comedic moments within this often heart gripping play. The pauses in action and the believable lilt and rhythm of conversation are enlightened. Fortified and just, The Weir makes for a whole village turn out. I leave the production heart struck and wanting to return to my local pub, in rural Wales, where similar interaction would take place. 4/5
Review written by Megan Mattravers.
The Weir is currently showing until Saturday 10th March 2018 at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…