The Weir review - February 2014

Having gone to The Weir expecting ghosts, I was instead struck with a story of pure and utter loneliness.


Conor McPherson's 1997 Olivier Award-Winning play, The Weir, has made a triumphant West End transfer from the Donmar Warehouse to the Wyndhams Theatre. And what better time of year to welcome a dark, chilling story than the gloomy months of winter. I would say that The Weir, directed by Josie Rourke, is the perfect way to embrace the cold.

Tom Scutt’s set design is immediately inviting; a desolate Irish Pub in the back end of nowhere. It is the kind of place you could find yourself drowning your sorrows with a pint of Guinness and this is exactly what the five characters on stage do.

What starts as playful beer fulled banter, with lads telling tales to the attractive newcomer of the village, soon turns into spine tingling, stomach sinking reality, with the pace of the show escalating accordingly. Delivery is perfect, with the plot developing momentum as each yarn is spun.

Both Ardal O’Hanlon and Dervla Kirwan were stand out in the production with their characters Jim and Valerie demonstrating the effect of alcohol on ones ability to express themselves. As the pair drink up they become more willing to share their dark tales…

I do not wish to ruin the show for anyone who hasn’t seen it so all I will say is that Dervla Kirwan has the stand out monologue of the evening, delivered with the perfect blend of precision, fear and regret, that leaves the audience dumbfounded.

My only slight reservation about the show is that I would have liked the performance to be even more intimate; I imagine the original location at the Donmar would have been perfect. However I understand the need for a West End transfer to capture a wider audience and I really hope this show does just that as it really is a must see.

I had gone to The Weir expecting to experience a play about ghosts, but I was confronted with a story of pure and utter loneliness. It plucked at my sad strings and, as the production went on, I became more and more emotionally engaged. It occurred to me that the real “ghosts” of the story are the kind of ghosts that find us only when we are alone. Really alone. This hurt me, it made me realise that the scariest element to this play was not the ghost stories, but the solitude. And that is a terrifying prospect indeed.


10 February 2014, Wyndham's Theatre