The Weir is a perfect night in a pub, if you like your nights in a pub to be dark, poetic and full of banter. The minute the audience enters the auditorium we are transported to an Irish pub. The attention to detail is impeccable, even the wallpaper behind the pictures on the wall tells a story of age. The set is expansive, as doors open I completely believe the actors are going into ‘the house’ or ‘out the front’. The bar appears fully functioning and plenty of pints are pulled over the course of the night. Then come the characters, perfectly cast by Kay Magson. As the accents unroll and spill across the stage we are witnessing an intimate peek into the private life of these people.
McPherson writes like he lives for language, storytelling is integral to this play and the nuances of every speech turns this play into a living breathing creature. Poetic weaving of the soft lilt of the Irish accent with explosions of passion makes the delivery of the script seem so natural. This creates an intimacy like we are silently looking into a real community and slice of Irish life.
Each character has a clear and distinct voice, their lives held in their body language and in the weight of the well timed pauses. All characters burnt brightly but in particular Jack, played by Simon Wolfe. Jack says ‘relish the detail of something like this…’ a gift to the audience reminding us of the beauty and craftsmanship that has gone into the making of this production.
Each character has a story to tell and we know early on that we can expect to hear a tale from everyone on the stage. The stories told paint intricate poetic paintings of the worlds beyond the stage. Underneath the bluster and banter between the characters is a love and deep respect which washes over the stage in patient waves. This illustrates the fundamental community held in the walls of the pub, without romanticising. We are reminded of the loneliness in rural Ireland, ingrained into the filth on the walls. As each story unfolds the supporting actors have the ability to hold the audience spellbound or to melt into the background becoming vulnerable and then harden in a heartbeat.
If you are transported by myth, magic and mayhem and fancy it all wrapped up in rustic pub in the middle of Ireland – book your tickets and indulge yourself.
The Weir runs at Tobacco Factory Theatres until 5th November
Review by Anita MacCullum
Image by Camilla Adams, with thanks