Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Lonesome West"

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"The Lonesome West"

by Martin McDonagh
Directed by Carmel O'Reilly

Set Design by J. Michael Griggs
Lighting Design by Neil Anderson
Costume Design by Sarah Chapman
Sound Design by Julie Pitman
Fight Choreographer Robert Walsh
Dialect Coach Ronan Noone
Production Manager Matther Holthaus

Coleman Connor..............................Colin Hamell
Father Welsh..............................Barlow Adamson
Valene Connor.................................Billy Meleady
Girleen.............................Bethany Ann McDonald

It's probably all that rain.
It rains a lot in Martin McDonagh's Connemara Trilogy --- a solid, steady sopping rain that rots the morals as it soaks the mind, till the hot-headed could blast the brains out of a relative just to break the monotony, while those that thinks o' things can think of nothin' to do but walk into the lake till the waters close over their heads and the bodies wash up on the shingle. All that seems to keep families together in McDonagh-land is Brotherly Hate, and if they weren't so feckin' funny --- so feckin' Irish! --- you'd be cryin' in yer potcheen, 'stead o' laughin' yersel's silly at their spiteful shenanigans. He don't call it "The Lonesome West" fer nothin', he don't.

As his play opens the brothers are just back from dad's funeral and Billy Meleady as Valene is crowin' that the house they share --- cupboards and chairs and floors and all --- belongs exclusively to him, and the cheap rotgut moonshine he buys from young Girleen (Bethany Ann McDonald) is to be Asked For before he doles it out. He marks his property --- like the thirty-eight figurines of the Virgin Mary he's constantly adding to and re-arranging --- with a V in black marker-pen, just so big brother Coleman (Colin Hamell) knows who bought it, who owns it, and can say "No, you can't" if asked for some. And sure, they come to blows and near strangulatin' one another more than once over such pettinesses. Ah, they've been at one another's throats since they were weaned, it seems like!

Sharin' a bit o' the rotgut to help him through the frustrations of ministering to a parish-full of spiteful blasphemers, unrepentant and unconfessed murderers and the occasional suicide is poor Father Walsh (Welsh?) Welsh, in the gloomy and unfulfilled person of Barlow Adamson, who does what he can to make these brawlin' brothers step back from their hatreds and maybe try to forgive rather than drag up all the sins and slights thirty or so years of livin' together has been fanning the flames of. If anyone can, maybe he can, or die tryin'.

The one bit a' bright in all this is that Girleen --- forever after teasin' the poor priest with her quick little jabs as she goes about sellin' her da's moonshine and savin' up pocket-money for some special private purchases. It's young she is, and brim-full o' fun, but it's her own young heart's broke before the play's over by the reluctance the Irish has of exposin' their timid hearts' core. And that's all I'll be sayin' on that score.

Is it a comedy? Oh yeah, but one with a shocker to the stomach square in the center of act two will stop yer heart in mid-laugh it will. But these are the Irish, remember, who niver ferget nothin' --- and this McDonagh fella knows 'em right down to their unforgiving toenails he does.

But of course, when Father hears Carmel O'Reilly it was directed this play (and so well too) she'll get a week's worth of "Hail Mary's" surely, and me too for laughin' so hard at it --- and me not even Irish!


"The Lonesome West" (1 - 24 November)
Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 497-5134

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