Irish Rep Does Outstanding Production of “The Weir” Online

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weir2By Karen Isaacs

Off-Broadway’s Irish Rep has been a leader in producing plays for this new environment. One of the earliest was a production of Brian Friel’s Molly Sweeny which featured the cast from their prior productions presented Zoom.

But with the recent production of The Weir by Conor McPherson, they took it to another level. Again it was cast members from their prior productions of the play.

You would hardly know that each of the actors was filmed wherever they were – Connecticut, New Jersey, etc. They had costumes, props and a set.

How technically they did this, I will leave to people who know these things better than I. It was an edited production with some cross shots.

The Weir which some view as a series of ghost stories told in an Irish village pub on a windy evening, has elements that make it ideal for this type of production.

It has one set, the bar, and only five characters. Also, the physical interaction between characters can be limited, so the absence of that doesn’t adversely affect the show.

To quickly summarize the plot, The Weir takes place in a pub in a small Irish village on a very windy night. Three men – the pub owner, Brendan and two neighbors, Jack and Jim are hanging out. Each is a bachelor and at least mid-thirties if, not older. The talk turns to Finbar, a real estate broker who once lived there but now is more “citified.” They comment that he will be bringing in Valerie, a young woman who has just moved into the village. Finbar sold her the cottage. The men are perturbed and perhaps jealous that the married Finbar is escorting this attractive young woman.

Once the two arrive, after some awkwardness (Valerie asks for wine which Brendan has to go into his house to find), the conversation turns to telling stories. The stories modulate into tales of unusual events, bordering on the supernatural. Towards the end of the evening, Valerie reveals why she has moved to the village and her ghost story. The stories rely on the Irish predilection for beliefs in fairies and ghosts.

It might not sound fascinating, but it is. McPherson and the cast use the power of the words of the stories to weave a web that will draw you in. You will wonder where it is going and will see how the stories relate to these people who are lonely and isolated.

By the way, weir is a word used to describe a low dam that is used for catching fish. I saw it in Maine where netting and poles were used to contain fish that came in with the tide. In other places it can be boards in rivers or streams.

These people are caught in the weir of their culture and their village. They each have regrets over missed opportunities or times they weren’t brave enough to take a chance. For Brendan it was an opportunity for love.

What comes through is the love among the group and the empathy as they hear Valerie’s story. By the end of the evening, it seems as though each has reached a better understanding of themselves and gained a comfort.

The cast – Dan Butler (as Jack), Sean Gormley (Finbar), John Keating (Jim), Tim Ruddy (Brendan) and Amanda Quaid (Valerie)  are outstanding in bringing these characters to live and showing them in all of their complexities. Even when they are not talking, their reactions are important to the play. Director Ciarán O’Reilly has kept the playing tight and fascinating.

We may have few chances to see plays performed live, but with productions like this, we can still indulge our love of theater.

The Irish Rep will continue with productions. Check out

By Karen Isaacs

Off-Broadway’s Irish Rep has been a leader in producing plays for this new environment. One of the earliest was a production of Brian Friel’s Molly Sweeny which the cast from their prior production presented Zoom.

But with the recent production of The Weir by Conor McPherson, they took it to another level. Again it was the same cast as in their prior production of the play.

You would hardly know that each of the actors was filmed wherever they were – Connecticut, New Jersey, etc. They had costumes, props and a set.

How technically they did this, I will leave to people who know these things better than I. It was an edited production with some cross shots.

The Weir which some view as a series of ghost stories told in an Irish village pub on a windy evening, has elements that make it ideal for this type of production.

It has one set, the bar, and only five characters. Also, the physical interaction between characters can be limited, so the absence of that doesn’t adversely affect the show.

To quickly summarize the plot, The Weir takes place in a pub in a small Irish village on a very windy night. Three men – the pub owner, Brendan and two neighbors, Jack and Jim are hanging out. Each is a bachelor and at least mid-thirties if, not older. The talk turns to Finbar, a real estate broker who once lived there but now is more “citified.” They comment that he will be bringing in Valerie, a young woman who has just moved into the village. Finbar sold her the cottage. The men are perturbed and perhaps jealous that the married Finbar is escorting this attractive young woman.

Once the two arrive, after some awkwardness (Valerie asks for wine which Brendan has to go into his house to find), the conversation turns to telling stories. The stories modulate into tales of unusual events, bordering on the supernatural. Towards the end of the evening, Valerie reveals why she has moved to the village and her ghost story. The stories rely on the Irish predilection for beliefs in fairies and ghosts.

It might not sound fascinating, but it is. McPherson and the cast use the power of the words of the stories to weave a web that will draw you in. You will wonder where it is going and will see how the stories relate to these people who are lonely and isolated.

By the way, weir is a word used to describe a low dam that is used for catching fish. I saw it in Maine where netting and poles were used to contain fish that came in with the tide. In other places it can be boards in rivers or streams.

These people are caught in the weir of their culture and their village. They each have regrets over missed opportunities or times they weren’t brave enough to take a chance. For Brendan it was an opportunity for love.

What comes through is the love among the group and the empathy as they hear Valerie’s story. By the end of the evening, it seems as though each has reached a better understanding of themselves and gained a comfort.

The cast – Dan Butler (as Jack), Sean Gormley (Finbar), John Keating (Jim), Tim Ruddy (Brendan) and Amanda Quaid (Valerie)  are outstanding in bringing these characters to live and showing them in all of their complexities. Even when they are not talking, their reactions are important to the play. Director Ciarán O’Reilly has kept the playing tight and fascinating.

We may have few chances to see plays performed live, but with productions like this, we can still indulge our love of theater.

The Irish Rep will continue with productions. Check out IrishRep.org. If you watch, make a contribution if you are able to this fine theater.Irish Rep

. If you watch, make a contribution if you are able to this fine theater.

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