I returned to The Archway Theatre this year to see The Weir, just as my first outing there last year was to see a play that I was studying for college (Closer by Patrick Marber – my review is here), so too was this visit. I’m drawing to the end of my module on Postwar British and Irish Playwriting and this play was one we study. I decided I would see it prior to reading/studying it though.
I’m glad I did, as this play is wonderful. Conor McPherson is a superb playwright, this play contains such wit, realism and moving monologues, I loved it. It’s refreshing to see a modern playwright actually write monologues for characters, and such beautiful ones too. He’s a real wordsmith, who captures the Irish timbre, lilt and speech patterns perfectly. I look forward to reading the script and re-visiting this play again (I may even use it for my up and coming assignment).
The play centres on a small Irish country pub, the set was spot on, and I really felt I was in a little corner of Ireland, I was tempted to go and get a Guinness too, but I was driving so refrained. It also has a small cast of 5, and with large monologues for each, would the cast cope with the demands this would place on them?
The cast was excellent, special mention must go to Mike Park who played the character Jack. He got the comic timing, accent and mannerisms absolutely perfect and was a joy to watch. The rest of the cast gave good performances too. I’d seen Kevin Day in Closer last year and he ably performed as Brendan the bar owner. Simon Bonsor was great as Finbar. Andrew Cook gave a subtle performance to Jim and played his humorous lines spot on too. Ali Hannant as the only female in the cast, was a strong performer and her monologue on her daughter’s death was extremely moving. They were a credit to the strong writing and really deserve a huge congratulations for tackling was must be a daunting play as an actor, and giving us all a delightful night out at the theatre.
This is a play that will stay with me a long time, thanks to the strong performances and the stupendous writing. I raise a pint of Guinness to the cast, crew and especially to Conor McPherson!