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BWW Reviews: THE WEIR, The Donmar Warehouse, April 25 2013

Here is a play that understands how best to quietly create the very raw, believable and incredibly human. Josie Rourke's direction calmly provides a wonderfully appropriate sense of pace, really allowing both individual characters and their relationships to filter through. Ultimately, through gruff words and sometimes argumentative interactions, McPherson creates a beautiful group dynamic and a highly moving piece of theatre.

All the action takes place in a remote pub in the Irish countryside, with a fantastically intricate set designed by Tom Scutt. Generally the Donmar Warehouse shows an outstanding level of commitment to creating a sense of atmosphere even before shows commence, and this was no exception, with Neil Austin's low lighting also giving a murky, cosy feel to the set.

The entire cast is excellent. Initially I found Brian Cox's laboured physical acting a little over-done and his accent was (understandably) less consistent than his co-stars', but then his story-telling - and that is what the characters chose to do with their evening - was wonderful. His evocative tale about a fairy road and, later, his sheer sense of empathy were quite beautiful.

Risteárd Cooper was brilliant throughout, his character somehow being a bit awful and yet likeable and Ardel O'Hanlon proved to the world again that he is funny, but was also immensely endearing, performing with real subtlety. Peter McDonald played Brendan with a lovely, measured consistency, which really allowed one to imagine he would be there again the next night, and probably for a few years after that. While Dervla Kirwan might perhaps relax more into her role with time, she gave a highly moving, sensitive performance. All in all, this is a fantastic production.

Connor McPherson's new play, The Night Alive, will soon debut at the Donmar, with his own direction. Both this production and the next one are to get excited about, I believe. This is a play without big, shocking drama, but what it achieves is so far beyond that - a glimpse into a few people's routines, as they quietly deal with whatever has been handed to them and those around them.

The Weir runs at the Donmar Warehouse until 8 June; the Donmar receives significant and ongoing support from its principal sponsor, Barclays, whom it would like to acknowledge.

Photograph credited to Helen Warner.


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From This Author Alice Chappell