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The Weir, Irish things that go bump in the night

Feb 22 2009
Hap Erstein | Palm Beach ArtsPaper

Put a handful of Irishmen in a bar and they will soon be drinking and swapping lyrical tall tales. It is a fact of life and of the theater, as evidenced by Conor McPherson's simple, plotless, yet haunting collection of ghost stories, The Weir, which opened Friday evening in (a) ...compelling production at Palm Beach Dramaworks. Director J. Barry Lewis weaves all of this with an invisible hand, setting a tone of naturalism that offsets the poetic language. Although no dialect coach is credited, the entire ensemble is adept at the Irish accents, which adds a crucial air of authenticity. He never seems to impose movement on his actors, yet the evening avoids feeling static. Dramaworks has scored a coup with the casting of stage and screen star Converse, who anchors the production as wry Jack, whose gruff exterior is belied by the twinkle in his eye. As talkative as Jack, that is how taciturn barkeep Brendan is, but Declan Mooney manages to make a great deal of his silences. Hanover comes alive in his story, while keeping Jim an enigma and Creaghan--fresh from McPherson's The Seafarer at Mosaic Theatre--oozes hale charm. Just as Valerie stuns the group with her tale of loss, Kaminsky's understated rendering of her story is a highlight of the evening. ...Michael Amico's pub set is rich in details, ... Joseph P. Oshry's shadowy lighting...(casts) a dank glow over the evening. The Weir--the word refers to a nearby dam--is helped by the intimacy of Palm Beach Dramaworks' playing space, which places the audience inside the pub with the locals. The only thing that might improve the production is if we too had pints of Guinness to help sustain us as we take in these tales of the supernatural.