The Weir by Conor McPherson – The Archway Theatre Company

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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!

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5 thoughts on “The Weir by Conor McPherson – The Archway Theatre Company

  1. I saw t with a party from RBC some years ago, in the days when the Study Weekend included visits to plays, and discussion of them over a glass or two (of Guiness, of course) until 2 in the morning. I remember expressing disappointment that somebody who could write such marvellous dialogue should use it to such little purpose. I enjoyed the experience, but it did not leave me wiser or happier – which are my criteria for a successful play.
    Jolyon

  2. The McPherson plays I’ve seen remind me of childhood Christmases at my Irish Grandmother’s, when my cousins and I (all with ages in single figures) were assumed to be so engrossed in our new toys that we wouldn’t be listening to the adults’ conversations. No doubt fueled by the odd drop of the black stuff, or something stronger, this was the annual polishing of their reminiscences of the house they lived in “Number 40” when they first moved to England, my Mum and her siblings approaching or being in their teens. It was haunted. If my cousins or I interrupted the flow with questions, we were told quite firmly that there was no such thing as ghosts, and sent into the kitchen for more mince pies and squash, but if we kept quiet, we were able to construct the mental picture of this amazing haunted house that I still have in my head today.

    I’m not claiming that any of my family had the storytelling skills of McPherson, but although I agree with Jolyon that you don’t leave his plays with a deeper wisdom, I always leave with the pleasure of having listened to such stories – the monologues – told with such beauty and relish.

  3. Pingback: Luck of the Irish?? I hope so for this assignment. « Theatre Thoughts Blog

  4. Pingback: The Veil by Conor McPherson – The National Theatre – Review « Theatre Thoughts Blog

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