THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
by Martin McDonagh.
Young Vic Theatre 66 The Cut SE1 8LX To 3 September 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat & 10, 24 Aug 2.30pm.
Audio-described 3 Sept 2.30pm.
Captioned 1 Sept.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 July.
An ever-more beautiful Beauty Queen.
Last year Joe Hill-Gibbins’ Young Vic production of Martin McDonagh’s signature play of rural Irish life, which sings along while undermining Synge-like expectations, was very good. This year, largely recast, it’s pretty near perfect.
Frank Laverty as the builder whose love might help rising-40 Maureen Folan escape the pig-farm she runs while her 70-year old mother rocks in her chair, and Johnny Ward as his impatient young brother, are as fine as were David Ganly and Terence Keeley.
It’s with the women the new success really comes, both in stability and change. As old Mag, determined to keep the daughter who looks after her at home, Rosaleen Lineham is a portrait of twisted viciousness.
Leaning slightly in her chair, eyes ever-watchful and calculating – they move from the TV to the letter Ray’s brought for Maureen, which Mag is desperate to read – her mouth muscles form her lips into insincere expressions, fearful or gloating over Maureen, undermining her silver-haired, pastel-green nightgown-wrapped appearance.
Though it’s hardly a matter of being looked after, as mother and daughter are about as friendly as master and servant Hamm and Clov in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame (and they aren’t at all friendly). Like the Beckett characters these two need each other. It emerges why Maureen’s here, and it’s a situation exploited repeatedly by Mag, with her constant expectations of help.
Last year Susan Lynch was very good as Maureen, but she had a natural glamour that made the woman’s near-hopelessness difficult to accept. Derbhle Crotty pulls back her hair, sags the facial muscles and creates someone habituated to life with mother; her one moment of hope is a moment. Even in her black party-frock, riding up her legs Crotty’s galumphing stride makes Maureen look awkward.
She has too the staring eyes which suggest one reason she’s stayed here. It’s a beautifully detailed performance that suggests the similarity as well as contrast between Maureen and Mag. Only the staging of the final scene between the women seems contrived to create its eventual impact. Otherwise, in Ultz’s dilapidated cottage the play’s mix of shock and laughter is precisely placed.
Maureen Folan: Derbhle Crotty.
Pato Dooley: Frank Laverty.
Mag Folan: Rosaleen Linehan.
Ray Dooley: Johnny Ward.
Director: Joe Hill-Gibbins.
Lighting: Charles Balfour.
Sound: Paul Arditti.
Dialect: Andrea Ainsworth.
Fight director: Alison de Burgh.
Assistant director: Cathal Cleary.
Assistant designer: Mark Simmonds.