Theatre Review: The Weir


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Here is a review of the new play The Weir submitted by a local resident. To read more of our reviews by local people click here.

‘THE WEIR’  –  (Theatre Review)    Royal Lyceum Theatre, Grindlay Street.

I arrived early and found a seat at the end of the front row just below the stage (I don’t like to be surrounded by the audience).  I knew nothing about the play.  The curtain was open presenting the Spartan interior of a downmarket Public Bar. Outside the window could be seen telegraph poles against a pitch black night and streams of mist fell from sprinklers.   A few barstools stood beside the altar which displayed holy founts of GUINNESS and HARP. Finbar, a burly 40 something man in a creased black funeral suit and clean white shirt enters and goes behind the bar to pour himself a bottle of ale. Then Brendan, a young ginger haired barman comes in and lines up the sacramental glasses and pours himself a refreshment. The pair share cigarettes and blether.  They are Irish and this pub is remote in the hinterland.  Dublin is mentioned from time to time during the play with distaste, as a Sodom of metropolitan avarice and immorality.

The burly man is a car mechanic who owns a small wayside garage and the barman lives in the adjoining flat. The suit is for the benefit of a mysterious woman, Valerie from Dublin who has just bought a long vacant cottage nearby.  The bachelor wishes to inspect the newcomer tonight with a view to romance, as his brother, a local estate agent, has been completing the sale and is to call at the bar for a refreshment with the woman.  Before the couple arrive a fourth character enters –Jack, a middle-aged bachelor handyman labourer who knows all the local gossip, dressed informally in wellies, donkey jacket and woolly hat.

This play is unusual in having no interval or change of scene – it runs unbroken for 1 hour 40 minutes. The first half hour seemed to drag, however we were informed about the characters mundane lives and eccentric dreams and I felt interested in the characters.  When the Estate Agent appears we see the two brothers are as different as chalk and cheese and underlying fraternal animosity simmers.  The woman guest seems solemn and out of her depth in the rough male company (bad language is used freely) even the self-made estate agent is quite coarse, but the woman remains serious and composed, requesting only a glass of “white wine”.  There is of course no wine on the gantry and the barman has to go into his flat to find plonk left over from Christmas. This is an example of the humour in the play which lightens its rather dark pessimism. The play descends onto a disturbing level as the locals recall their supernatural experiences with “fairy folk”, ghosts and unexplained knocking on doors, culminating in a genuinely spooky tale by the old codger Jack who meets and is spoken to by the ghost of a man he has just interred in the local cemetery.

I felt that the humorous leg–pulling which accompanies these yarns deflates the powerful spell of a supernatural dimension which seems to be a reality in this primitive community.  I felt this had a negative effect on the play.  I also feel that the writer has presented a tranche of anecdotes and tales as well as observations of people he has met in Irish country pubs without introducing any ideas of his own – it’s sort of “reality” drama which I could experience any night of the week at the CROFTERS tavern as well as enjoying a pint of GUINNESS and watching BAYERN MUNCHEN on the giant telly. Having said this I did enjoy the play and felt sympathy and empathy with the characters.

G.H (January 2016)

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