Celebrating Irish culture does not end with St. Patrick’s Day. This Thursday (March 24), a production of the Irish play The Weir opens at Scena Theatre. The Weir was written by playwright Conor McPherson. Scena Theater is one of two local companies focusing on Irish theater that has chosen to produce this the play year.
The Weir opens with men in a bar swapping stories, including some about an attractive woman who has moved to the area. The woman enters the bar along with another buddy of theirs, and the four men swap ghost stories to entertain each other and to gain the woman’s attention; but it is the story she tells that impacts them all in surprising ways.
The play’s director, Robert McNamara, was a longtime resident of Dublin and he founded a theater company there. According to McNamara, the play “is about the land and the struggle between spirituality and belief … I see the play as a kind of ritual that unfolds from the very ordinary and leaps into the realms of spirit.”
Brian Mallon, who is one of the actors that the theater has brought in from Ireland for this production, says the characters in the play tell spooky stories with humor and depth.
McNamara says he chose a work by McPherson because “McPherson is unquestionably pre-eminent as a story-teller among all of the so-called new wave of Irish writers. That is his chief strength. In this play it is not much if what is said is true or false, but the moment that matters.”
Mallon echoes that sentiment. “[The Weir is] a terrific play; saw it years ago, and I just loved it.” Mallon says he gets to play his favorite character — the one who made all the money.
In describing the town in which the play is set, Mallon notes that it is not the “new” Dublin that people outside of Ireland hear so much about, but that it is “a small crossroads type of town, not fast-paced.”
Mallon describes DC as a town he likes very much. He has been here before and he is connected to another DC cultural institution: He recorded a documentary about the role that the Irish Brigade played in the Civil War for the Smithsonian Channel documentary in Gaelic and English that aired March 17.
Why check out The Weir? Mallon says because it has a bit of everything. “In Irish theatre, you don’t get the sunshine without the tears and vice versa.”
Visit the Scena Theatre online for the schedule and to purchase tickets.
Scena performs at the H Street Playhouse, 1365 H St. NE, Washington, DC 20002.