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The Lonesome West

by on 10 June 2019

Firing On All Cylinders … And In All Directions

The Lonesome West

by Martin McDonagh

Richmond Shakespeare Society, Mary Wallace Theatre, Twickenham until 15th June

A Review by Raymond West

Every so often you have an evening at the theatre that is hard to describe. Was it terrific? Was it terrible? Richmond Shakespeare Society’s revival of The Lonesome West provides just one of those evenings. This hilariously funny production is a non-stop carnival of lunacy, set in the west of Ireland and centred on two brothers who seem to have been hell-bent on destroying each other since birth and are now set to bring their home – if not the neighbourhood and everyone in it -crashing down around them.

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Fiona Smith directs Martin McDonagh’s play with verve, allowing the quiet moments of reflection – there are some – the time and space they need, while keeping the brothers’ never-ending struggle centre stage even when they are in the wings. The production is well cast with good performances from the quartet of actors, especially Tom Shore’s quietly desperate priest who has failed in every aspect of his life and Elle Greenwood as a schoolgirl poteen dealer (only in Ireland!) who might have more balls than any of the men – all failures in their way – yet has a softer centre that comes to the surface only when events take a turn for the worst.

As the Connor brothers, living a Punch-and-Judy life in a sparsely furnished cottage, Steve Webb and Martin Halvey are very entertaining. Halvey’s is a more subtle portrait of insanity – just – while Webb’s herky-jerky twitches owe much to Father Ted, too much so when he first appears. Against the odds, the two actors, well paired, succeed in making some sense of the Connors’ insanely destructive rivalry.

The pace of the production is furious throughout which means that the over-lengthy set changes and blackouts provide a little respite and are less distracting than they would otherwise be. The technical effects are generally good, especially the sound, though the opening scene of the second act was too expansively and brightly lit, leading to audible confusion for some members of the audience.

All in all, a flawed but thoroughly enjoyable whirlwind of an evening that will stay in the memory for some time to come. Was it terrific? Was it terrible? It was both.

Raymond West
June 2019

Photography by Simone Germaine Best

From → Drama, Reviews

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