by Conor McPherson.
Wyndhams Theatre Charing Cross Road WC2H 0DA To 19 April 2014.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat
Runs 1hr 50min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 482 5120.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 22 January.
Weir – and wonderful.
It’s just a night down the pub where the blokes life’s passing-by spend their time. They pull the pints, operate the cash-register when landlord Brendan’s out the back, The bypass may have taken away much of Jack’s motor trade, but he still gets Jim to help him out with the repairs at times.
But yer man Finbar’s been away to the big city – Dublin, where the Celtic economy’s booming – and he’s back, smart in his bright suit, a get-ahead local lad, purposeful, unlike such happy, shambling stay-at-homes as Ardal O’Hanlon’s Jim, comfortable in his great jumper. Or Jack, full of advice about marriage to the young, but shrugging off commitment for himself.
Only this night will turn out different, because Finbar has brought with him a woman. The annual arrival of a part of German tourists (who might not be German) is something the locals accept with its inconvenience, but Valerie’s arrival sets them in a state of chivalrous shock. Brendan has to find and recall how to pour wine, while the women’s toilet’s had no reason to be mended since it last broke.
There’s comedy here – perhaps too much at moments in Josie Rourke’s revival, though that might be to do with moving from the much smaller Donmar Warehouse to the full-sized West End, where things become more presentational and open to laughter.
Conor McPherson’s play is lifelike, opening (despite Brian Cox’s added comic detail) with the casual nature of the every-evening. When the men discover there’s to be a woman amongst them they’re swept by awkward politeness, sending them stumbling into local legends and ghost-tales.
The male rivalries and conflict which ebb and flow around the recountings are finely orchestrated, and eventually silenced when Valerie tells her own ghostly tale, drawn not from legions and fairy histories but grievous personal experience, which Dervla Kirwan relates with quiet dignity.
The containment of deep emotion beneath the men’s bonhomie and competitiveness is part of the final melancholy, along with the suggestion that the supernatural stands for the characters’ hidden sense of incompleteness. All of it finely contained within these performances.
Jack: Brian Cox.
Brendan: Peter McDonald.
Jim: Ardal O’Hanlon.
Finbar: Risteård Cooper.
Valerie: Dervla Kirwan.
Director: Josie Rourke.
Designer: Tom Scutt.
Lighting: Neil Austin.
Sound: Ian Dickinson for Autograph.
Associate director: Oonagh Murphy.