Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Weir"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark

"The Weir"

by Conor McPherson
Directed by Rick Lombardo

Scenic Design by Richard Chambers
Lighting Design by Daniel Meeker
Costume Design by Eileen Bouvier
Production Manager Jessica Rae Chartoff

Jack................Richard McElvain
Brendan...............Colin Hammell
Jim...........................Billy Meleady
Finbar..................Barry M. Press
Valerie......................Dee Nelson

Now it's no secret the Irish is great ones for the tellin of stories, especially in them small rural bars in the Northwest country where Conor McPherson sets his hour and a half slice o'life "The Weir". Surely there's not much else to do but to drink and to gossip with a few mates of an afternoon. And once a "small one" or two's been chased down with a bottle of stout, them tales of somethin strange and maybe supernatural just come tumblin out. Better that than a lonely walk home with the wind in yer face, isn't it, now?

The tales start with what was once heard of a Faerie Road and a knockin in the night, and spirals slowly in toward the personal --- of a figure seen waitin on a stair, of a dead man pointin out his own gravesite, of a phone-call from a dead child. And sure, all these tales come hedged about with doubts and with maybe; they could all be explained away. But it's true too that Rick Lombardo at that New Rep out Newton way has assembled a bunch of blarney-tongued boyo's will fair make a whole hundred hearers quit breathin just to catch the next word.

And with names like Richard McIlvain an' Colin Hammell and Billy Meleady and Barry M. Press you can be sure the brogue is as thick as a workboot's sole, but as the night moves on and old grudges move on to newer confessions, these tavern orators tear into McPherson's script like sculptors carving time. For it's not each word but each meaning they make clear. And as three of them are unmarried, sure it's Dee Nelson as a woman up from Dublin, out of the tourist season, is their chosen audience for the night --- and she with a story of her own, if she finds friends enough to tell it to.

And sure, it's a broke-down bar Richard Chambers has built out there, with the Guinness pump not workin and Daniel Meeker's lights makin a peat-fire glow so that Eileen Bouvier dresses them all in workaday woollens to keep the chill out and the whiskey-warmth in. But it's more than a few blazin peat bricks and a coupla small ones makes that inner glow on the New rep stage, I'm tellin ya.

Y'aughta feel it for yerselves.


"The Weir" (till 11 February)
54 Loncoln Street, NEWTON HIGHLANDS

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide