I read the preview notes prior to sitting down for a dress rehearsal before tonight’s opening show and expected a ‘dark comedy’. Instead, I witnessed a shocker … in the best possible sense.
Yes, there are the occasional moments of mirth but this Martin McDonagh offering is much more spine-chillingly Hitchcock-esque than most. Be ready to squeeze your eyes shut and let out a gasp of breath when the key moments occur.
It’s not for the faint-hearted.
Set in the Irish mountains of Connemara, County Galway, it tells the tale of Maureen Folan, a plain and lonely spinster in her early forties, and Mag, her manipulative, ageing mother.
Mag’s interference in Maureen’s first and perhaps only chance of romance sets in motion a train of events that are as tragically funny as they are devastating.
Maureen, played with immense stage presence by Sharon Burke, an actress you will not be able to take your eyes off for more reasons than one, is dynamic to the extreme. She grabs this role by the throat, like a desert dog to a motorcycling fast food delivery boy. Talk about conjuring up a mixture of emotions, one time you have complete and utter sympathy for her plight and the next moment you’ll hate her guts.
One of Bahrain’s most amazing veteran stage talents, Anne Koheji, plays misery Mag and also sparkles in her roll. She creates her own roller-coaster of audience emotions with her portrayal of the lonely, moaning old dear. Another character to hate, love, hate again and sympathise with as the storyline develops.
The male characters in this stage show are equally as strong. There’s an annoying messenger, Ray Dooley, played with irritating excellence by Dave Lock who you’ll want to shake some sense into throughout the play.
And then, the bearded ‘love interest’, namely Ray’s older brother, Pato. The character is played with absolute charm and charisma by James Wassom. One scene, where he pens a letter to the woman of his dreams, is worth the admission price alone.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane will keep you riveted until the end and I guarantee you’ll be discussing the ins-and-outs on the journey home and when you settle down on the sofa and look into your sweetheart’s eyes, you’ll be feeling very thankful.
The British Club has invested vast sums of money in refurbishing the hall, the sound now is spot on and add that to a larger stage and superb set, it makes for a memorable theatrical experience. But the leaking roof still needs mending.
Directed by Hannah Turner and produced by Carrie Bell, this is one to remember.
l Tickets priced BD7 are available from the British Club reception. Theatre seating tonight, tomorrow and Saturday with dinner & theatre on Friday with an Irish-themed menu (food & beverages separate to ticket).
Stanley Louis Szecowka
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