THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
by Martin McDonagh.
Young Vic 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 21 August 2010,
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & 4, 18 Aug 2.30pm.
Audio-described 14 Aug 2.30pm.
Captioned 5 Aug.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 July.
Emotions accumulated in a corner of the country, finely on show in London.
Cosy traditions of Irish rural drama receive a cold makeover in Martin McDonagh’s plays, including this, the first of his Leenane trilogy, set in the harsh Connemara countryside.
Mother and daughter Mag and Maureen Folan are death to each other. Living a hard life in their cottage – dilapidated walls and tacky furnishings apparent in Ultz’s design – 70-year old Mag sits in her rocking-chair piling on the helplessness and plotting to prevent 40-year old Maureen escaping by marriage.
Maureen’s no angel herself, though McDonagh shows the longing that goes alongside the cruelty built into her. The only limitation of Susan Lynch’s performance is that her Maureen remains too attractively resilient despite the prospect of endless-seeming years of this life lying ahead. Still, this woman hitting forty in the sticks might not see it that way.
Some productions have shown the dreary, heavy toil of her life. But the sense of isolation, of messages being sent by hand or posted by Pato to Maureen via his brother in this age of instant access, make the point that it’s a different life out there. And Joe Hill-Gibbins’ production allows Maureen her night of love, as Pato’s Beauty Queen.
It’s a rare scene n McDonagh and of course brought to earth the next morning when Maureen’s mother finds them. That’s more McDonagh’s line, and it’s part of his particular skill that the mood can be approached equally through laughter stopped by shock or along an edge of horror suddenly invaded by wild laughter.
The ‘McDonagh moment’ of shock occurs here in near darkness but clearly made its impact on newcomers to the play. It involves Rosaleen Linehan’s conniving mother, determined to keep her daughter, despite their mutual dislike – they’re something of a female Hamm and Clov moved form Beckett’s Endgame to an Irish cottage.
Pushing herself against the side of her rocking-chair, Linehan’s Mag is magnificent. With the sympathy of David Ganly’s Pato, expressing intense feelings in limited words, and Terence Keeley’s volatile, childish Ray, this is a fine reminder of McDonagh’s ability to make a distinctive world from a corner of his nation.
Pato Dooley: David Ganly.
Ray Dooley: Terence Keeley.
Mag Folan: Rosaleen Lineham.
Maureen Folan: Susan Lynch.
Director: Joe Hill-Gibbins.
Lighting: Charles Balfour.
Sound: Paul Arditti.
Dialect: Majella Hurley.
Fight director: Alison de Burgh.
Assistant director: Cathal Thomas Cleary.
Assistant designer: Mark Simmonds