Conor McPherson is good at blather, I’ll give him that. But despite the near-sighted accolade of “finest playwright of his generation” bestowed on the young Irishman by The New York Times, he doesn’t measure up to the bar set by countryman Martin McDonagh. He’s adept at characterization and he can craft a compelling monologue, but plot and structure are not his strong suit; there’s a dollop of humor here and there but not enough for all the talk, and his words lack the biting wit of McDonagh’s.
McPherson serves up a disappointingly weak drop o’ drink in “The Weir,” now at South Coast Repertory through April 3, but there’s an unexpected kick to it if you’re patient. Still, it fails to satisfy, given the play’s reputation, and the authenticity of Thomas Buderwitz’s setting, which is sure stir the heart of anyone who’s ever stepped into a real Irish country pub. The establishment’s customers, who do most of the blathering in the form of ghost tales, are as genuine as their surroundings in the hands of the cast. SCR vet Richard Doyle is especially colorful as Jack, a cagey old soak who’s more self-aware than we might suspect at the outset.
Kirsten Potter delivers an exquisite, naturalistic performance as Valerie, a newcomer to the area and the lone woman among the four men. Eschewing an Irish accent, she makes the most of her monologue, a story sure to haunt her companions long after they depart. Warner Shook doesn’t let his direction get in the way; his hands, at times tied by the playwright, are nearly invisible. Call 714-708-5555.
Hot tip: “The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, 1911: An Original Cantata” by Yale Strom—commemorating the Jewish and Italian immigrants who died tragically in what was the worst single calamity in New York history until 9/11—will be presented Mar. 23 at San Diego State University’s Rhapsody Hall.
More from Jordan:
Philip Glass in Costa Mesa, “West Side Terri” in Fullerton (extended thru 3/26)
‘Julius Caesar’ at Fullerton’s Stages, ‘Napoleon & Love’ on DVD
‘12th Night’ in Fullerton, McKellen & Gielgud Bard solos on DVD
A ‘Wicked’ evening in Costa Mesa
“You’re Lookin’ Swell, Dali” – Westways, March-April 2011, page 24.
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