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Washington DC by Tracy Lyon

The Weir

Accounts of ghostly images and messages from the other side are the order of the day in Conor McPherson's engaging play The Weir. Now at The Round House Theatre, The Weir shows off storytelling at its best.

Set in a pub in a rural area of Ireland, the play focuses on a group of regulars who trade ghost stories in order to impress a new woman in town. Their conversation is peppered with good-natured insults and glimpses into their own lives. Finally, when the newcomer relates a story of her own, the men realize the true impact of their eerie tales.

Conor McPherson has created a series of ghost stories, but he has also painted a portrait of friendship and community. It is evident that with the telling of each story, the ties that bind these men together grow tighter. The stories that are related are varied. One or two are a bit predictable. Perhaps, it is the quaint setting or the colorful characters, but the production as a whole does leave one feeling that it is all just great fun.

The play itself feels like one large monologue. The transition from story to story is seamless. This is in large part due to Mr. McPherson's skillful writing, as well as the direction, provided by Nick Olcott. Mr. Olcott does an excellent job of setting the pace of the piece. He is aided in this task by Jonathan Blandin's dramatic lighting, which emphasize both the mood and the transitions in plotline.

The Weir
Marty Lodge and Jerry Whiddon
The Weir has a superb cast which is headed up by Round House's Producing Artistic Director, Jerry Whiddon. Mr. Whiddon's portrayal of Jack, the amusing elder statesman of the group, is very strong. He exhibits an easy charm that comes through whether he is spinning a yarn or silently pondering the advantages of being the sole inhabitant of an empty pub. In fact, Mr. Whiddon is able to convey more in several minutes of silence, than many actors can relate with two hours of dialogue. As his fellow bar patron, Finbar, Marty Lodge (Of Mice and Men) nails the role of the self-important businessman. Rick Foucheux, who was last seen in Studio Theatre's production of Far East, is very effective as Jim, the quietest of the group. As Valerie, the new girl in town, Kathryn Kelley does a wonderful job of conveying the character's easygoing personality while revealing her underlying sadness. Finally, R. Scott Thompson (She Loves Me) is a standout as congenial bar owner Brendan.

The design team has really outdone themselves for this production. Jos. B. Musumeci's set design is warm and cozy. Its dark wood bar and stone fireplace alone are enough to make one yearn to get up on stage and join the boys for a pint. Additionally, Rosemary Pardee's costumes do a terrific job of communicating the setting and the individual personalities of the characters.

For several in The Weir, it is their last acting project on this stage, as the Round House will be moving later in the year to its new digs in downtown Bethesda, Maryland. The care with which the cast and crew have produced this play is evident and gives further proof as to why Round House has been a force in Washington theater for the last thirty years.

The Round House Theatre
The Weir
January 30th - March 3rd
By Conor McPherson
Directed by Nick Olcott
12210 Bushey Drive
Silver Spring, Maryland 20902
Ticket Information: 301-933-1644 or www.round-house.org


Photo: Stan Barouh


-- Tracy Lyon


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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