Joey Arena, Robert McFarland, Neil Brewer, Brian Hinds, & Marci Miller in The Weir. Photo: Bunbury
By Conor McPherson
Directed by J. Barrett Cooper
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
On a windy evening, folks from a small Irish town gather for a “strange little evening” in a small pub for beers and shots. The windy evening soon turns into a night of stories, fantastical and mysterious. Some are skeptical, others are full-hearted believers. What slowly rises to the surface are themes of loss and isolation. Bunbury Theater has staged The Weir, a piece of storytelling that explores the mysteries of heartbreak and the haunting nature of memory.
A small cast of five actors, this ensemble takes shape as pub patrons of varied classes in a small town. Conor McPherson’s script mostly comprises lengthy stories disguised as monologues with witty asides and quips thrown in for good measure. A lesser cast would have fallen to the weight of these stories’ emotional integrity. The actors do well to stay present with listening and stillness as stories are shared about the graves of young girls, ghost sightings, and ominous noises. The performances remain steady for this hour and forty minutes one act, which only enhances the stories the audience hears.
While the storyline between “old, independent” Jack (played with a bittersweet twinge by Brian Hinds) and the wealthiest man in town, Finbar (in a light, charismatic turn by Joey Arena) seems slightly shallow compared to the meaty content folklore within the play, the performances are strong throughout. Hinds is strong from start to finish. His speech describing a major lost opportunity in love lets him deliver a final emotional insight into a man who seems comfortable living alone but is haunted by what could have been.
Each story shared in this pub strings along the traditions and culture of the small town. As a new resident of the town, Valerie listens to each story, gaining more perspective of her home. Marci Miller remains an engaged audience until her story ties the others together. She dives deep into the emotional trauma of her story. Detailed in the description of her daughter’s death and fears, Miller delivers the story with such great focus as though under hypnosis. It is the retelling of a story that is told with great vulnerability.
A play where the characters sit in a bar and share “fairy stories” might not be for everyone. Yet, the action and tension come from these bits of gossip and local folklore. The stories in The Weir take on their own lives, full of mystery, and worthy of a captive audience.
Featuring Neil Brewer, Marci Miller, Brian Hinds, Robert McFarland, Joey Arena
October 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, & 27 @ 7:30 pm
October 15, 22, 28 @ 2:00 pm
The Henry Clay Theatre
604 S. 3rd Street,
Louisville, KY 40202
Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!