BWW Reviews: Theatreworks' THE WEIR Serves Up Guinness and Ghost Stories
Conor McPherson's The Weir is all about the atmosphere, and Theatreworks certainly has it. Scenic designer Jonathan Wentz has built a cozy rural Irish pub with mismatched chairs, a turf fire, and Guinness on tap. The floorboards of the stage come right up to the front row of seats; you feel like you could walk right up to the bar and order yourself a pint (in fact, the audience is invited to do just that at the performance's conclusion). This is a small-town watering hole, a place where everybody knows everybody's business and men fresh from a hard day's work gossip like old ladies over beer and whiskey.
The pub is the provenance of Brendan (Andy Sturt), who doles out drinks while Jack (Michael Augenstein) and Jim (Patrick Toon) discuss the day's news in thick, musical brogues. The top story: a woman from Dublin has just rented a vacant cottage in the area, and big-man-about-town Finbar (Joe Discher, who also directs) has been showing her around the area. Inevitably Finbar's tour brings the newcomer Valerie (Mandy Olsen) to the pub's door, where she stands out like the city mouse she is (her request for a glass of white wine throws the place into a minor panic). But the regulars are welcoming, and soon the conversation has turned to local legends-stories of faeries and ghosts, death and dark secrets, loss and regret and unexpected kindness. Jack starts to worry that the tales may frighten Valerie away, but it turns out she has a story of her own...
With its heavy regional dialect, McPherson's writing runs the risk of being unintelligible to American audiences, but the cast invests the language with an energy and rhythm that makes it easy to listen to (the glossary included in the program is also useful). Discher keeps things going at a good pace that only flags near the end, and is one of the standouts among the cast along with Augenstein's genial Jack. As Valerie, Mandy Olsen's accent slips a bit more often than that of her costars, but she is magnetic in her climactic monologue about the shattering events that led her to Brendan's door.
Haunting, humorous and human, THE WEIR plays at Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater now through February 9th, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 2pm and Sundays at 4pm, with drinks following the performance. For tickets, please call 719-255-3232 or visit www.theatreworkscs.org.
PHOTO CREDIT: Isaiah Downing