28 February 2018

The Weir at Richmond Theatre brought fairies and ghosts to the pub

Apparently The Weir was the winner of the 1997 Olivier Award for Best New Play, which was good enough to get me to see it. My ATG Card proved useful again and I secured seat Dress Circle Row A Seat 22 for just £22. At that price there was really no decision to make.

I was pleased to see the theatre fairly busy on what was a treacherous evening and for a play that had little history (i.e. I had not heard of it) and no established stars in it.

The play was fairly obviously set in a pub and the accents told me that it was in Ireland, though it was a reasonable time before anyone spoke. The play opened with one of the pub's regulars serving himself and that was comically fraught with difficulties. The slow cosy pace set the tone for the evening.

More people came into the pub until we had the five characters pictured.  The pub and the five people was all we had for an hour and three quarters. It was a fairly standard pub and fairly normal people too. The opening conversation was about horse racing.

The conversations changed direction when the woman, a newcomer to the area, came in with the rich landlord she was renting from. Looking at an old photograph on the wall of the weir led to conversations about the past and gave the play its name.

The normal conversations became first a little fantastic and then a little dark. There were fairies and ghosts in them but nothing to scary. And then the woman told her real story and things got darker still.

All to quickly the pub closed and everybody left. Nothing much had really happened but if you have to have a play in which nothing happens then this was the way to do it. A lot of clever things went on with the pacing, the interplay of the characters, the development of the stories that they told and the way that the lighting helped to massage the mood.

The Weir was a bit like listening to some ethereal ambient music, and that is a good thing.

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