Following a hugely successful, sold-out run at the Donmar, Conor McPherson’s 1997 play The Weir has transferred to the West End’s Wyndham's Theatre. Despite moving to a larger venue, Josie Rourke’s production has held onto its intimacy.
The Weir is a one act, real-time play lasting one hour and forty-five minutes. There is plenty of time to appreciate the detail of Tom Scutt’s design and become wrapped up in the peculiar atmosphere. I should point out that The Weir is nothing like McPherson’s more recent play The Night Alive which is a more fast moving and gruesome piece of theatre
Set in Brendan's isolated pub on the west coast of Ireland, The Weir
introduces four men who are catching up over a pint of beer. The mood completely changes when a woman (Valerie, played by Dervla Kirwan) from Dublin, who is new to the area, arrives and (controversially/shockingly) orders a glass of wine.
As drinks are consumed the five begin to tell various stories, the most chilling of which comes from Valerie. It wasn’t until one of the men made a comment after the story had concluded that I realised how long it had been since a male voice had been heard. The stillness was haunting. The Weir isn’t about fast paced thrilling drama or a huge spectacle; it is dark and unsettling in a more subtle manner.
features some of the best acting I have seen for a very long time. As the entire original Donmar cast, Risteárd Cooper, Brian Cox, Dervla Kirwan, Peter McDonald and Ardal O’Hanlon, have transferred with the production to the West End it comes as no surprise that they have all perfected their performances.
As West End shows rely more and more on fancy designs and high-tech sets it’s refreshing to see something which is simply about five actors telling stories. Whilst the play, which feels a little lengthy at times, isn’t for everyone, if you are a fan of storytelling and want a chilling and thought-provoking evening or afternoon at the theatre look no further than The Weir.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins
The Weir runs at the Wyndham's Theatre until Saturday 19th April 2014