The setting is a tiny rural Irish bar. Not only can one hear the bellowing and bawling of the wind pelting the structure, but it’s almost like the gusts whistle through its walls and into the hearts of the establishment’s patrons.
“The Weir,” currently on The Swan Theatre stage and performed by the Flatwater Shakespeare Company, is not a festive production. But neither is it depressing. Sobering with hints of uneasy comedic relief seems most appropriate.
The short, 90-minute presentation — performed without an intermission — is a journey into insecurity, isolation and solitude. It probes the seclusion of individuals as the world withdraws from them and at the same time as they retreat into a selfness of protection for comfort. Thankfully towards its conclusion, there's a glimmering of resurrection of confidence and expectation.
The play covers an evening of drink and stories as Jack (Brad Boesen), a garage owner; Jim (Christian Novotny), Jack’s handyman; Finbar (John Burney), a well-off property owner; and Brendan (Paul Shaw), the bar’s owner; swap tales and alternately attempt to entertain or impress Valerie (Summer Lukasiewicz), the village’s newest resident.
Each of the men has specters haunting his self-confidence and attempt to find escape. Valerie initially seems removed from such self-doubt, but eventually exposes her vulnerabilities.
Jack and Finbar banter among themselves, ebbing toward and flowing from confrontation, while Brendan — smitten with Valerie — shyly edges toward a protector role for her. Jim is removed, yet in many ways is the most assured — perhaps not recognizing his plight.
Eventually the night turns to ghost stories — a most manly way to impress an innocent young woman. But what the stories actually accomplish is the dropping of the curtain, protecting the façade of each character. And with that banishing comes trust and confidence.
The play’s cast is strong and consistent, with Shaw, Burney and Novotny delivering nicely crafted and measured performances.
But it is the monologues delivered by Boesen and Lukasiewicz toward the end of the production that are searingly captivating. Gently and quietly presented, their elocution bares their secrets, yet that revealing is what makes for the possibility of optimism.
“The Weir” is a very good production. And the fact that the play’s tales of fairies and ghosts are dispensed in a cemetery should not be ignored.