Review: A Top Notch Cast Delivers with BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE at Jobsite Theater

Don’t miss your chance to catch the “Beauty Queen” before she’s gone...only onstage through April 7, 2024.

By: Mar. 17, 2024
Review: A Top Notch Cast Delivers with BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE at Jobsite Theater
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“Don’t I have to live with it... I guess I do...now”

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a play by Martin McDonagh it premiered at the Druid Theatre in Galway, Ireland. This 1996 Dramatic Play also enjoyed a successful run in London’s West End, Broadway, and Off-Broadway. Its London production was nominated for an Olivier Award, and the Broadway Production of 1998 was nominated for six Tony Awards of which it won four.

In 1997, the play was produced as part of the Druid Theatre’s “Leenane Trilogy,” which also included two other plays by McDonagh. Its Broadway transfer to the Walter Kerr in 1998, helped Director Garry Hynes, become the first female Tony Winner for Best Director of a Play.

The plot’s central storyline revolves around Maureen Folan, a 40-year-old Spinster living in Leenane, Connemara. The play is set in the early 1990’s, and shows Maureen as caretaker for her 70-year-old mother Mag.

Soon thereafter, the Folan home is visited by Ray Dooley. He invites both Maureen and Mag to a party for his Uncle who is visiting.

After the party, Maureen brings Pato, Ray’s older brother, home. Having known through acquaintance for nearly 20 years, Pato reveals that even though they have barely spoken, he has always regaled her as “The Beauty Queen of Leenane.”

After a night of what is assumed to be an intimate encounter between the two, Maureen appears the next morning in her undergarments, flaunting the encounter in front of her mother. Pato departs and explains he will write to the now-upset Maureen.

Sometime later, Pato writes a letter to Maureen, explaining how he will be moving to Boston and wishes that Maureen will join him. He gives the letter to Ray to deliver directly to Maureen, but as he waits he leaves the letter with Mag, who in turn burns all evidence of the letter.

Mag lets it slip that she knows about the confessions in Pato’s letter, and Maureen tortures her mother until she confesses. Maureen rushes off to Pato’s farewell party.

Once Maureen returns, she explains to Mag that she has recommitted herself to Pato, and despite the mother’s reluctance to respond, we soon learn that the mother has met her untimely demise at the hands of her daughter.

Later, following the funeral, Maureen soon realizes, following a visit from Ray, that she imagined the reconnection with Pato, and she leaves a message with Ray to deliver.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane says Goodbye.”

The lights fall on Maureen in her mother’s rocking chair.

Artistic Director David Jenkins and his all-star team have done it once again. Proving to the Bay Area that Jobsite Theater remains a dynamic force in Professional Theatre.

Director Paul Potenza has assembled a top-notch cast that delivers magnetic performances from the start. Grounded in the human condition, and whose plight can be felt to the very core of your soul.

That is one of the more intriguing things about McDonagh’s work. Rather than create caricatures in the mind of what these people may have been like, his characters are grounded and ultimately human in their most truest of forms. With a cast featuring a dynamic ensemble of Katrina Stevenson, Roxanne Fay, Blake Smallen, and David Jenkins, one can never go wrong.

As Maureen, Katrina Stevenson delivers a gut-wrenching performance that needs to be seen. You feel for her plight, especially if you have known what its like to take care of an ailing mother. She longs for a life of her own, but with no help from her siblings, what semblance of life can she really have? Always a breath of fresh air when Katrina steps onto the stage, making the character all her own, but at the same time, making one we can relate with from beginning to end. She creates a dynamic bravura of a performance here, and one that needs to be witnessed.

Roxanne Fay is otherworldly as Mag. From the subtleties of facial expressions to the sheer pain of her hand, she is astounding here. Never faltering for one moment, relying on the grounded nature of pain, in which her character resides, Roxanne delivers tenfold.  Her moments with Katrina’s Maureen, highlight a real mother/daughter chemistry, that will make you look at your connections.

These two women (Roxanne and Katrina, respectively) will blow you away!

As Ray Dooley, Blake Smallen is in another element. Each time they take the stage another layer is added to their already impressive body of work. You always want to watch every second Blake is onstage, for you never know where their energy is going to take the scene next.

David Jenkins, as Pat Dooley is masterful. His moments with Katrina are grounded in true human emotion, and you feel for his plight. His opening monologue of Act 2 received a well-deserved round of applause on opening night.

Director Paul Potenza, and Assistant Director Katherine Yacko, deliver an expertly paced, top-notch production. Each moment is so meticulously planned out, that you are immediately drawn in, and I found myself unable to look away.  Two hours felt like minutes in the hands of this fine company, and the expertly delivered nuances between the relationships of these characters is orchestrated down to the smallest moments.

Technically sound The Beauty Queen of Leenane is wonderfully rendered. With a superb set design by Brian Smallheer, coupled with dynamic lighting from Jo Averill-Snell, you get the sense of old-world Ireland. Costume Design by Katrina Stevenson lends a unique personality to each of these characters and fits perfectly into the time period of the story. The special effects by Logan Franke add a special layer to the performance and really will make you audibly gasp. Sound Design by Jeremy Douglass, allows us to embrace the sounds of Ireland, and sets the perfect mood to tell the story. Stage Management extraordinaire, Jessie Dorsey keeps the momentum of the show moving at a rapid pace and helps the subtleties of Paul’s vision come to life with ease.

One special mention is the use of dialect. So many times, dialect can come across as forced, and oftentimes waver in and out between scenes. However, in the hands of this very capable company, the dialects appear second nature. Never faltering, and always rightly delivered.

From now until April 7, you can experience The Beauty Queen of Leenane, onstage at the Shimberg Playhouse, at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the button below.  If you are looking for the perfect blend of the human condition, delivered by an exceptionally talented company of performers, then look no further than our friends at Jobsite Theater. Where we wish them Sláinte! on a beautiful and prosperous run. The perfect ticket for St Patrick’s Weekend, and by far the most grounded, and human-natured performance I have witnessed bar none in some time.

PHOTO CREDIT: JAMES ZAMBON PHOTOGRAPHY




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