Written by Conor McPherson
Directed by Adele Thomas
Co-production English Touring Theatre and Mercury Theatre Colchester
First staged at the Royal Court Theatre twenty years ago, The Weir remains an exquisite example of story telling on every level. From the first moment of this remote Irish pub opening for business to the closing of the door and dimming of the lights this is spellbinding theatre.
Nothing really happens in this quiet bar throughout the evening and yet this a night that will be woven into the local story telling traditions in years to come. The themes of loneliness, stoicism and loss are entwined in how much identity in rural Ireland is defined by the land and family. The four men are all from this remote part of County Donegal. The young publican Brendan and his regulars Jack and Jimmy are seemingly resigned to their solitary lives. Their individual obligations to Sisters, to the Mammy or to maintaining the local vehicles define their identities in this small isolated community. Finbar has got out, left the loneliness for marriage, commercial success and life in the neighbouring town yet he seems the most vulnerable of the four men. Newcomer Valerie has “blown in” seeking solitude as a panacea to grief.
The sharing of old stories and myths intertwined with lived experiences connect all five in ways that soothe that inner loneliness, and beautifully reveals the sensitivity in each of these four awkward local men. The relationships between the characters are perfectly pitched to reveal all the subtle elements of their shared history in this community.
Growing up in a rural Irish village I knew every man on the Stage and every worn barstool and smoke stained lamp and old photo on the walls. The actors personify their characters as though they have drunk them in reflectively like a pint of stout or Harp. When Valerie occassionally jars in the gentle pace it is only because she is an outsider, blown in from the big city.
As drinks are drunk and stories are told the magic of small lives richly lived is evident. This bar has no need of a jukebox, the tiny television is unused and nothing more is needed than the human voice and the wind singing under the door.
OLDHAM COLISEUM 24-28th October