The Weir by Conor McPherson
Showing at the Stables Theatre, Friday 20th September – Saturday 28th September; Director Andrew Bruce
Preview by Merlin Betts
Sitting in the Cutter with a bundle of friends and sipping a pint of Long Blonde might seem a world away from the theatre, but Conor McPherson’s award-winning creation (it took an Olivier for Best Play) proves otherwise.
The Weir unfolds in a rural bar – not quite a pub – somewhere in Northwest Leitrim or Sligo. A few local drinkers, all old acquaintances, begin their usual session with a chat about a newcomer to their small community: a woman. When she arrives at the bar with a local business magnate, the group settle into a story-telling session and vie for their new companion’s attention. McPherson, only 25 at the time of writing, has an excellent eye for social nuance and it’s this insight that makes the play such a success, as much as the variously folkloric and chilling bar stories.
This latest production at our very own Stables Theatre is directed by Andrew Bruce. Performances will be preceded by live folk music, played by the accomplished Garry Blakeley (he was at St Mary in the Castle not so long ago with Feast of Fiddles) and Fiona Ford, who you may have heard down at The Stag on All Saints Street.
The actors, all locals, have benefited from expert voice-coaching to build their accents into something that suits the Irish border (for the men) or Dublin (for their female visitor). Perhaps you’ll have met Theatre Nation’s Patrick Kealey (who’ll be Jack) playing the Twelfth Night’s Antonio in new one-man play Fiction Romance (Dir John Knowles). And you might know Rich Keeble, playing Finbar, from the Stables production of The Audience (Dir. Frances Viner, and produced by Andrew Bruce). Bob Stewart plays Jim, Matt Turpin is Brendan and Dominique Gerrard completes the cast as Valerie.
Graham Pearcey – who was to play Jack before an unfortunate cycling accident befell him – summarises the play and its characters:
“We’re transported to the strange isolation of an out-of-the-way bar where the tales and banter flow as easily as the alcohol. We meet Jack, quick, witty and cutting; Jim, with his winning ways; Brendan, the purposeful publican and keeper of the peace; flashy Finbar with his fat wallet. And then there’s Valerie, the newcomer, whose tale of personal tragedy touches them all.”
• The Weir will be showing at the Stables from 20th-28th September. It runs for approximately 90mins without interval, and will include strong language, as well as the smoking of herbal cigarettes. Adult tickets £13.50, book on the Stables website. Gala night on the 21st involves wine and canapés for a £5 supplement.
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