Irish Repertory Theatre's The Weir

Distinctly Carved Characters Channel Ghosts in a Bar

By: - Aug 26, 2015


The Weir

By Conor McPherson
Directed by Ciarán O’Reilly  
Irish Repertory Theatre 
DR2 Theatre on Union Square 
New York, New York  
Extended thru September 6th 

Actors: Sean Gormley, John Keating, Mary McCann, Paul O'Brien, Tim Ruddy
Charlie Corcoran (Set Design) Leon Dobkowski (Costume Design), Michael Gottlieb (Lighting Design), Drew Levy (Sound Design).

The Weir is the name of the bar in which Charlie Corcoran has designed a warm, old-fashioned meeting place that particularly pleases German tourists tramping through the Irish countryside.  They may provide financing, but bartender and owner Brendan is its solid heart.  Tim Ruddy as Brendan creates the steadiest character and may, as a result, win the play's prize.  

Outside the bar is a weir, a low dam built across a river to raise the water level, divert the water, or control its flow. 

So inside the bar, life is flowing through, stopped for a moment by stories told by the locals.  On this occasion, there's a new single woman in town. Her landlord is showing her the countryside, and stops in to introduce her new neighbors, all bachelors.  The landlord is not, but he doesn't seem to be in hot pursuit of an illicit affair.  Is he actually opening up some doors for the new girl in town?

Sean Gormley as Finbar, Valerie's tour guide, discovers a delicious edge between lord of the manor, and kindly governor of local affairs.  He encourages Jack, a man with a big head who lives alone in a tin-roofed garage which draws in the heat of the sun, and shakes and rattles when it rains.  Jack, charmingly drawn by Paul O'Brien,  knows the story of the fairy road which runs under the house in which Valerie now lives.

Valerie is an active listener as Jack, and then Finbar and finally Jim move ever closer to telling a personal story.  Jack and Finbar tangentially act in their third person recounting of another's tale.  

Jim is in the middle of his own story.  John Keating playing Jim is particularly affecting as a mama's boy who has been waiting for years as his mother dies a 'fast' death.   

The playwright, Conor McPherson, can extract humor from bleak and lonely situations.  As intense as the ghost stories which become more real are, they are often broken up with laughter.  This includes the silly phrases used to get to the bathroom:  I am going to squirt on a pillar of the community.  

Through portraits of a village priest trying to commit pederasty with an already buried young girl, of a mother who would not send her child to bed and fairies rapping at the door and window to pass on for a swim,  the colors of a small town erupt.

Mary McCann weaves Valerie's clearly real life story of the death of her young daughter. As she describes a mysterious phone call from heaven, the men around the bar are moved to comfort her, and to welcome her as one of them.

Brendan the bartender will win her hand.  A solid realist, he owns the best view in town, and Valerie seems ready to share it at the end.  

The Weir is another masterful, moving evening from the Irish Repertory Theatre.