Talkin' Broadway Regional News & Reviews: Cleveland - "The Lonesome West" - 2/21/15
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CLEVELAND
Regional Reviews by David Ritchey

The Lonesome West
none too fragile theater


Andrew Narten, Jenny Sherman, and Robert Branch
Way out in the lonesome west, somewhere in Ireland, people die. Maybe die is the wrong word. People kill people. As The Lonesome West opens, Coleman (Sean Derry) and Valene (Andrew Narten) return home after the funeral of their Da. Coleman shot him. But, in the lonesome west of Ireland, no one seems to care.

Ireland's lonesome west comes to life on the small projected playing area of none too fragile theater. The small theater seats about 100 people and is in the side room of a local tavern. Audience members are invited to bring their drinks into the theater.

In the playing area, the set is two walls of a small Irish cottage. A bale of straw or hay is stacked on top of a large cabinet. Straw is scattered on the floor of the cottage and the room hasn't seen a broom or mop or housekeeper in a long, long time.

The two brothers, Coleman and Valene, are hot heads. The audience sees a rifle hanging over the fireplace and knows it will be fired once or twice before the curtain call.

Father Welsh (Robert Branch) attempts to bring some peace to their little cottage. He has just conducted the funeral service for their father, but the brothers aren't impressed with the priest or the church.

Girleen (Jenny Sherman), a pretty young woman, works with the bothers hoping to find a way to settle their life-long disputes. But she seems to pay more attention to the priest than to the brothers. Although the three men are much too old for her.

Coleman and Valene have two terrible fights. The actors playing these roles tear at each other and make the blows they deliver seem real and painful (perhaps they were). The dialogue bounces with more intensity than a tennis match. They spit the words and make the audience chill with the delivery of their biting lines. The playwright has given the actors terse, tight and crude language. The four performers are up to the language challenge Martin McDonagh gave them in his script. Both Derry and Narten are excellent performers. They toss lines and evoke laughter from the audience. In the second act, under the tutelage of Father Welsh, Coleman and Valene struggle to make amends for all of the terrible things they've done to each other. One will announce a terrible deed and the other will forgive him. But this game can't last long and ends with one brother taking the rifle off the wall.

Playwright Martin McDonagh created these interesting characters and placed them in this strange Irish world. McDonagh wrote A Behanding in Spokane, which none too fragile performed last year. McDonagh is considered by some critics to be the most important living Irish playwright. He has received one Academy Award and has four Tony Award nominations. Audiences might know him best for the movie Seven Psychopaths.

This production of The Lonesome West is thoroughly satisfying.

none too fragile theater's Lonesome West through February 28, 2015, at 1835 Merriman Road, Akron, Ohio. For tickets and performance information, call 330-671-4563 or visit www.nonetoofragile.com.

By Martin McDonagh
Father Welsh: Robert Branch
Coleman: Sean Derry
Valene: Andrew Narten
Girleen: Jenny Sherman
Directors: Sean Derry and Alanna Romansky

- David Ritchey



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