The world that Martin McDonagh created in his plays is no the naturalistic Irish play you might have expected over twenty years ago, with kindly oinseach characters who speak a kind of Oirish blather of the mist rolling up or down the bog. He keeps the setting but darkens the mood and the laughter is edgy and manic and the loneliness has a different tone to it.
In this Bowler Hat Theatre Company production of The Lonesome West, it is more a western, TV land where the humour carries the dark moods along and at some stage the mood will darken to sorrow, remorse and regret and then career off in a shower of feckin this and feckin that and feckin everyone else.
This excellent production by Liam Butler with a splendid wreck of a set from Dermot Quinn catches the horrible landscape of a McDonagh play brightly and mercilessly. Two arguing cantankerous, vicious batchelor brothers, Coleman and Valene, arrive home with the local priest Fr.Welsh to berate each other and the neighbours who would “steal the shite outa burning pig.” It turns out that Coleman shot his father because of a spiteful remark and all Valene can think of is getting the house signed over to him and collecting religious plastic figurines. They argue over Tayto crisps, poitin and accuse each other of being feckin gay boys.
The priest is a depressive alcoholic who says he is a “biteen lonesome in a place where people kill, maim and commit suicide and he is having a feckin crisis of faith.”
The other character is a schoolgirl, Girleen, who sells bottles of poitin and is vicious and innocent by turn. Anne O’Riordan catches the contradictory moods of this girl with fine ability and sincerity. Colm Power is wonderful as the morose priest and his Act 2 monologue letter is a masterpiece of delivery.
Brian Coady is almost too nice at times to be the devious Valene and his technique misses an interior quality. Kieran Doyle, a model actor as Coleman, is detailed, vicious and spiteful and once again he delivers a notable performance as he becomes the characters. He was excellent in the final twenty minutes as the brothers engage in a game of remorse and reconciliatory kindness. Another success for Bowler Hat.