Review: The Weir – unnerving tales and found friendship

Review: The Weir – unnerving tales and found friendship

A wild storm is brewing, a fire is slowly burning in a pub in the Irish countryside. Four locals spin chilling tales to a newcomer from Dublin. Connor McPherson’s play unfolds in real time and explores relationships through a focus on dialogue rather than action. The Leeds Art Centre carefully reveal the histories and complexities of each character with vigour and sincerity.

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The set design was traditional and effectively authentic with warm lighting, a country decor and sounds of the wind howling. This worked to create a deep sense of isolation of not only the setting but also the folks who meet there. The director, Ken Taylor, constructed the action well as the actors naturally moved around the space, bantering, drinking and buying rounds realistically using the bar to insert some physical action onto the stage.

‘The director, Ken Taylor, constructed the action well as the actors naturally moved around the space, bantering, drinking and buying rounds’

Each of their tales were grippingly told, stirring the audience to share in the suspense of the unnerving tales as if we were there with a whiskey in hand too. Alan Buttery playing Jim portrayed a seemingly effortless part throughout but for a considerable time in the play was seated at the back of the stage and disappointedly blocked from view. When he did come forward he delivered his tale enthrallingly and was able to naturally maintain the Irish accent. Unfortunately, at times during the performance the accents of the other actors were not delivered so accurately. This became a distraction away from their lines that would have otherwise been gripping.

‘The monologues were delivered powerfully and when Ayshea Megyrey, playing Valerie, responded with her personal and heart-wrenching tale the theatre was silent’

Having said that, the monologues were delivered powerfully and when Ayshea Megyrey, playing Valerie, responded with her personal and heart-wrenching tale the theatre was silent. Her emotion was raw and captivating, creating a story to stick in your mind and haunt your dreams. These moments of eeriness were given light relief however as Graham Greensit (Jack), Joe Caunce (Brendon) and Dean Franklin (Finbar) were quick in their witty bantering whilst also masterfully allowing their characters’ subtle compassion and vulnerability to peek through. This humour characterised the closing of the play as they ridiculously debated the country of Germans and promised to share more nights together. A glimmer of hope was left that their stories would not be ruinous because they had found friendship and merriment in each other.

The Weir continues its run at The Carriageworks tonight and tomorrow (3rd & 4th Feb). You can buy tickets on the door or online here.

Eve Newstead

(Image courtesy of Leeds Art Centre)

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