Cozy 'Weir' at Palm Beach Dramaworks lives up to its Olivier Award
In a world where many of us lead isolated lives, having a neighborly pub to retreat to would be a comfort. Such a pub is the setting of Conor McPherson's play The Weir. The bar's regular patrons have known each other a long time, probably all their lives. But the night when The Weir takes place is different. A young woman is about to invade their sanctum and break down their defenses. The play is being given a heartwarming production at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach under J. Barry Lewis's sure-footed direction. The show is steeped in Irish ambience--two of the five-member cast actually are Irish. But the unexpected ways the characters connect is universal. Lewis' pacing is adept... Long pauses underscore the humor and awkwardness of some moments. Confusion, swift changes of tone and other subtle cues signal the embarrassment the men feel when their stories take them into deep waters. The characters are sharply etched. Dennis Creaghan is particularly at home in the skin of the urbane Finbar. Karl Hanover's Jim almost curls up with shyness, but wins the prize as the man best able to communicate warmth when needed. Lena Kaminsky's Valerie adds layers as the play progresses until at the climax her perfectly pitched anguish surprises and devastates. Hats off as usual to Michael Amico's story-serving set, which has a lived-in, rough-hewn coziness. The Weir won Britain's Olivier Award for best new play in 1999, and McPherson, who also wrote the Broadway hit The Seafarer, is regarded as one of Ireland's leading playwrights. Dramaworks' production shows us why he's been so honored.