By Bob Evans
For a unique KC theatre experience, midtown’s Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre transformed its lobby area into an Irish pub setting with round tables, a program that on first glance looks like a bar menu, a bartender to take pre-show drink orders, a friendly host to seat patrons, and an intimate setting that puts the audience inside the actual play, “TheWeir.”
The Weir, the name of the bar, comes from an old photo hanging on the wall that explains some of the background to the local town and its past. Known for public houses (pubs), rough lauguage, and plenty of alcohol, become part of the town’s history and serve as the meeting places for the locals. In this case, The Weir attracts a certain regular crowd who know each other, their history and the local stories that get retold to all newcomers or those wanting to just reminisce the old days.
As with the old country stories, ghosts, goblins, banshees, fairies, and other supernatural phenomena always creep into the conversations as the ale flows and the stories begin. And, nothing can be better for the Halloween season than some light, supernatural tall tales of Irish lore.
“The Weir,” by Conor McPhersen, brings three local men into Brendan’s bar along with a new lady resident moving to the countryside from Dublin. The scandal comes to the forefront as the locals know that Valerie has been seen in town with Finbar, a married man and infrequent pub patron. Finbar escorts Valerie to the bar and the ale flows as does the scotch whiskey and the stories begin.
One story involved the “Fairy Road” that the fairies traveled to town upon. Seems the house Valerie resides sits directly on the fairy passing and strange noises have been heard at that house as reported by past residents. That’s the beginning of the blarney that’s forthcoming.
Each tells his story but Valerie’s story stands out as she tells of a personal experience and how that occurrence has affected her. Each story has a theme, and while the first stories are light, the later stories contain more depth, feeling, and emotional connection for the audience.
For this one-act play, director Bob Paisley selected a talented ensemble cast who have all mastered the Irish dialogue and brogue. The cast is: Coleman Crenshaw as Brendan, Paul E. Orwick as Jack, Chis Roady as Jim, Matt Donovan as Finbar, and Elizabeth Hillman as Valerie. Rebecca Ralstin serves as stage manager and associate bar tender for pre-show pub orders.
“The Weir” continues through Oct. 29 in the lobby area of Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre. Tickets may be purchased by phone at 816.569.3226 or via the MET website. Next up: Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline.”
Tags: Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, “The Weir”, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment