The Weir, Mercury Theatre – Colchester
There is something very fascinating about 4 men and a woman in a remote pub in the Irish countryside telling each other ghost stories and anecdotes from their past. At its heart the play is about loneliness and how different people cope with it.
Each character has an enthralling monologue to deliver which when matched with the superb lighting makes them compelling. I loved the mix of jokes and arguments between the characters and the obvious disgruntlement about the broken Guinness tap or the impending arrival of the ‘Germans’.
Sean Murray as Jack took us on a roller coaster of emotions and showed us all sides of the old man who missed out on love in his youth and how a small act of kindness from a stranger made such a big impact on him. I loved his performance as it was belligerent, tender and extremely generous.
John O’Dowd as Jim was a calming influence and gave a quietly reassuring performance of the man who tells his own ghost story about a graveyard which certainly gave me shivers down my back.
Brendan the barman, a young bachelor is played confidently by Sam O’Mahony – we never really hear his back story except ‘The Sisters’ have been to visit but we know he likes to make a show about ‘debating whether or not to have a drink’.
Louis Dempsey as Finbar, the local boy who has made a success of his life and is resented by the other characters gives us the most animated character in the piece. And finally last but not least is Natalie Radmall-Quirke as Valerie, the only woman in the play and we are left until the last third of the play wondering if she has a secret and what her place here is. Her story when revealed bonds her to the group. It is both moving and terrible at the same time and I truly felt her sorrow and pain because it was so believable and it felt so natural and understated.
This was a profound and thoughtful performance but it kept the audience gripped throughout. The Mercury once again has brought us an insightful piece of theatre which firstly was performed on an amazing set but which was brought to life with stunning lighting.