Writer: Conor McPherson
Director Rachel O’Riordan
Reviewer: Emily Pearce
The Sherman’s new production of The Weir (in conjunction with the Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol) is a subtle study of human behaviour that slowly gets under the skin.
Conor McPherson’s one-act play set in a remote bar in rural Ireland received the Oliver Award for Best New Play (1997) when originally performed. Under Rachel O’Riordan’s measured and restrained direction, the new production simmers with loss and spirited humour.
With the wind howling ‘outside’ throughout, Kenny Miller’s simple, yet effective bar design provides physical solace for the characters as well as the audience; the grubby space is transformed throughout the evening into an intimate and friendly confessional for lonely souls.
The evening begins with gossip exchanged throughout the bar of the newcomer, a woman, to the village, Valerie, who is being given a tour by another local, Finbar (played with panache and charm by Steven Elliott). The production then centres on Valerie’s entrance and the ensuing, mainly unsettling, stories each man tells as they try and impress her.
For some, the play’s lack of pace or discernible plot may be too slow, but that is to miss the discreet characterisation and dramatic arc. The tight-knit cast of five gels together naturally, giving considered, rounded performances and the impression of having been at one another’s sides for years, knowing each of their foibles. Simon Woolfe relishes in his role as the cantankerous, yet likeable Jack, while Orla Fitzgerald as Valerie gives the impression of restrained anguish throughout that boils over to deliver a sombre punch at the play’s understated climax.
An added extra to the evening is the offer of (exceptionally tasty) Irish stew before the play begins. While not part of the performance, it adds a real warmth and depth to the experience as a whole.
The Weir provides an excellent looking glass to others’ lives; a disquieting and heartfelt evening.
Runs until 22 October 2016 | Image:Camilla Adams