Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review of Irish Theatre of Chicago's The Weir

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Weir. It was by Conor McPherson and it was directed by Siiri Scott. It was about a bunch of Irish men--Jack (Brad Armacost), Brendan (Bradley Grant Smith), Jim (Jeff Christian), and Finbar (Dan Waller) who lived out in the middle of nowhere and one day a woman named Valerie (Sarah Wellington) moves to town from Dublin and they decide that they want her to come over to the bar and hang out with them. And they end up telling each other things they never thought they would tell anyone. It is about friendship, trust, and finding comfort in others. I really loved this show. It was funny and moving.

I loved all the spooky tales. Each one moved the plot along so well. It wasn't a long monologue to get a small point across. Each story showed a stage in how the trust grew throughout the entire play, which I thought was cool. At the beginning Jack tells a story about a fairy road and a woman knocking on the door, but by the end they are talking about deeper things like the loss of loved ones. There is also a story that Jim told about being in a graveyard and meeting a pervert. It shows you how comfortable they are getting with each other because it is about something real. Perverts have been confirmed, but fairy roads have not. Valerie story has more baggage--something that sticks with you for your whole life. It is about a completely real thing followed by something that is slightly less believable but is no less emotionally draining. Like when you read a book and you know it is not real, you still feel for the characters. It is real for her. The last story, told by Jack, is really real. There is no supernatural part to it; it is just a normal sad life. I'm still thinking about that monologue because it seems so true. There are people who are very lonely and they didn't mean to be.

Even though there were a lot of sad moments, there were also some really hilarious moments. Valerie was seen to be a classy lady and she didn't really want a beer, so she asked for wine. It made everybody laugh hysterically; they were like "Do we really seem like people who would have wine around?" They try to seem like they do anyway. Brendan goes and gets wine from the house, which was hilarious because I think she would have been fine with a beer. And then the wine isn't good anymore, so she pretends to drink, which is funny. She's just trying not to be a jerk. There was this running gag where every time someone would have a drink, Brendan would start pouring the drinks, and his friends would say, "Will you have a drink?" and he would say, "Just a small one" and then pour himself a giant amount, which I thought was very funny. And it was also kind of hilarious the amount that they drank. I think one of them had at least 10 drinks in like an hour and a half. You would think they would make worse decisions, but I think they made better ones, like to be nicer to each other and help out Valerie.

Before Jack and Brendan and Jim meet Valerie, she is like an object of desire. They think she might have an affair with Finbar, which they don't want because he's married and they want Valerie to be with Brendan because he seems pretty lonely, being the owner of a bar and all. But I think it is great the way the author went with her, making her an actual feasible character and not just an object of desire. It is really interesting to see the difference between how they talk about her and how they treat her when she is in the room. I was worried at first that she was going to get harassed, which gave a great amount of tension to the room. But then it makes you feel better about the male characters when they treat her with civility and then as a friend.

People who would like this show are people who like spooky stories, deep friendships, and drinking a lot. I thought this was a really great show. I found it really intriguing. Even though it was a show that was all talking, it wasn't at all boring. There wasn't a moment I wasn't engaged.

Photos: Emily Schwartz

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