Donmar Warehouse Production
Wyndham's Theatre, London
Wednesday 29th January 2015
Conor McPherson's lauded Irish drama won widespread critical acclaim when it first premiered in 1997. Josie Rourke's new production for the Donmar has brought together a stellar cast in a stunning revival, now beginning a twelve week West End transfer.
Set in a rural pub in Ireland's quiet countryside, the play on the surface is very simple - a small group of locals drinking heavily and telling one another ghost stories. It is McPherson's captivating writing talent however, to explore the minutiae of a situation and extract an enthralling dramatic tension, that elevates this play to an exciting piece of must-see theatre. Each of the small group of characters are individually developed as stories are gradually revealed, maintaining a dramatically steady pace throughout. Tiny, carefully chosen phrases are richly steeped with meaning, and pregnant pauses sing out with dramatic significance.
This production brings together a wealth of Irish acting talent, but it is Brian Cox as Jack who most enthrals the audience with his effortless charm and intelligent wit. His final speech of lost love is heartbreakingly delivered, offering a beautiful emotional intensity while retaining a relaxed realism. Ardal O'Hanlan is also delightful as the simple Jim and Risteard Cooper's Finbar is ideally pitched as the local-boy-made-good entrepreneur.
Is this production commenting on Ireland's collective distraction by the supernatural? Or merely using the ghost stories to examine the loss and loneliness displayed by each of the intricately characterised locals? Delicately directed, it is left open for to the audience to decide, and made all the more intriguing for the open ended resolution.
A thought provoking piece with some superb performances - a must-see for lovers of tension-filled, character-based drama. Booking at the Wyndham's Theatre until 19th April.