Decadent Theatre Company
The Gaiety Theatre
Twenty years on, The Weir continues to delight and scare audiences, and it’s easy to see why. One of Conor McPherson’s earlier plays, it centres around the tradition of storytelling in the rural Irish pub. Several regular locals drop in for a drink, and a casual chat eventually turns into an exchange of ghost stories that deliver a cold thrill.
The play starts off slow with some idle exchanges; it is as though the characters congregate merely to drink and to ward off the loneliness and isolation that they exist in. However, intrigue builds when the characters boast and show off to impress Valerie, the newcomer from Dublin. The stories become increasingly more intense, concerning death and the supernatural.
The Weir is largely centred on words and conversation; you will often be staring at one character for minutes on end as they recount their eerie tale. Apart from the occasional shuffling of characters on stage there is little action, but the dialogue entrances and grips you. It has a comfortably colloquial, rural feel, the characters sipping from pints of Harp between tales.
The acting is strong and keeps you in the moment; gripping portrayals of terror and self doubt from Frankie McCafferty and the cantankerous Gary Lydon are of particular note. You being to wonder whether their stories are honest or complete fabrications – the characters don’t seem sure themselves, and alcohol blurs the line between reality and fiction. The sound effects, such as wind blowing against the window, are over the top at the times, but the simple set maintains a firmly realist atmosphere. There’s a fireplace, framed black and white photographs hanging on the walls, simple pub lighting, and a bar with taps. It convincingly recalls the average pub, and adds to the authentic and intrinsically Irish feel of the play.
The Weir draws the breath from you as you intently listen to the shocking tales. The tension builds with each successive story and keeps you on the edge of your seat until it suddenly dissipates, and regular life heaves a breath again. The Weir returns to the regular old pub it was at the start of the play, and you leave startled but thoroughly entertained.
The Weir has finished its run at the Gaiety Theatre, but will tour the country in June and July 2017. Tickets can be booked in advance at decadenttheatrecompany.ie
Pictures by Darragh Kane.