“The Weir,” Bob Paisley’s adaptation of Conor McPherson’s award-winning play, delivers an authentic, engaging and oftentimes charming evening of entertainment with richly drawn and acted characters.
The Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre’s presentation of “The Weir,” literally played out in the lobby bar of the Warwick
Theater, provides the perfect setting. Set in The Weir, a small pub in a rural town in Ireland, the story follows three locals out for some beer, conversation, and companionship at their local watering hole.
Their evening’s banter and reminiscing changes significantly when another friend, Finbar enters and introduces them to Valerie, an attractive Dubliner that recently moved into a local haunted house. The evening’s conversational focus becomes a progression of the men’s alcohol-enhanced ghost stories, as they subconsciously compete for Valerie’s attention.
After each man recounts his ghostly story, Valerie tells her own. Her story, assuredly real, includes why she moved from Dublin. As a result of Valerie’s telling of her ghostly experience, the evening’s mood is upended. Their braggadocio, gone as the men open up and reveal aspects of their personalities that are softer and more genuine.
The strength of this play, besides the excellent writing and direction/staging, are the five actors – each with their own Irish brogue – that made the audience feel like they were sitting in an Irish version of the “Cheers” bar. The pacing and interaction of the characters felt completely authentic as the audience immerses in the presentation and voyeuristically listens in on their yarn-spinning.
Kevin Fewell, as Jack a 50-ish local businessman, delivers a wonderful performance that includes idiosyncratic mannerisms and speech patterns that had this reviewer questioning what was acting and what are genuinely his. Kevin Fewell shines in this role that seems written for him, as his final monologue about personal loss, while not about ghosts, can still be felt as “haunting”.
Curtis Smith, as Brendan the pub owner, inhabits his role as if he is in fact a pub owner and excellently balances being their friend and participating realistically and seamlessly in the story-telling.
Tommy Waller, as Jim, delivers an understated but somehow charming performance – both with his own ghostly story and his “physical presence.” Nobody can sit at the bar and seem as engaged in his friends’ extended monologues as well as Tommy Waller!
Michael Scahill, as Finbar a local businessman, is expertly cast as his professional, dapper appearance isn’t off-putting. Mr Scahill reeks of a successful business professional but reveals his softer, more tender side as Valerie’s escort for this evening.
Elizabeth Hillman, as Valerie, captivates the attention of the men and the audience. Her ghostly story, excellently delivered, projects rawness and authenticity
A richly written ghost story, “The Weir’s” superb acting makes it a must see for a Halloween treat.
The performance is in the Lobby Bar at The Warwick Theatre, 3927 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64111 and runs through Oct. 31. Seating is limited, so get your tickets and be transported to this quaint Irish “Cheers” bar with fantastical stories to share! Tickets can be purchased from the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre website.