It is a great summer season for theatre in Dublin and the Gate Theatre has a revival of Conor McPherson’s The Weir running until the middle of August. They premiered this work in Ireland after its London opening.
Gary Hynes of Druid directs this production and the dismal grey weather suited this set of ghost stories told in a ramshackle rural pub in 1993. Four men and one woman hold the stage with initially point-scoring banter and joshing and then three of the men tell ghost stories but each tale has a slant that is topped by the next teller like a competition to see who is the best in front of the visitor – the woman.
The barman/owner Brendan is played with accuracy by David Ganly and throughout the hundred minutes, without interval, he links connections and is last to leave the bar. The stories take on an aspect of pedophilia that you would not expect in the traditional ghost story format. Then the woman tells a story that has the power to chill in a modern way especially as when McPherson wrote it. It prefigured the Maddy McCann story.
Francis O’Connor’s design is eerily accurate and Sean McGinley is powerful as the time-wasting Jack. Mark Lambert is excellent as the feckless Jim who has to mind an ageing mother. Denis Conway brings gombeen life to the part of Finbar the land-dealer and hotelier with an eye for the main chance be it ladies, livestock or land.
Genevieve O’Reilly brings an outsiders mystery and freshness to the play and she silences the house with the power of her monologue.