The Weir â€˜conjures up an evening of fireside supernatural stories underscored with a deeply felt humanityâ€™ (Mark Thomson, Artistic Director of the Lyceum Theatre).
The Sligo night might be dark and rainy but thereâ€™s a warm welcome in Brendanâ€™s Bar. The fire is lit, Jack and Jim are fixtures at the bar, and Brendan is debating whether to join them in a small one. The gossip centres on the newcomer from Dublin; rumour has it that her landlord, Finbar, might want to take his hosting duties just a tad too far â€“ and him, the only married man amongst them. When Finbar himself arrives, with the stranger â€“ Valerie â€“ in tow, the storytelling begins.
Written by Conor McPherson, and directed by Amanda Gaughan, storytelling is at the centre of The Weir; local legends of fairy roads and ghostly visitors. In turn, Jack and Finbar and Jim tell their increasingly haunting stories â€“ you just know thereâ€™s a story to Brendan too, but thatâ€™s for another night â€“ and stir each other to an angry outburst. Then Valerie (Lucianne McEvoy) begins to speak, and what she has to say is compelling, shocking, and she delivers it with perfect presence and timing.
The performances from the rest of the cast are equally powerful. From the moment the scruffy-suited, middle-aged Jack (Gary Lydon) enters the bar and pours himself a drink, itâ€™s hard to take your eyes off him. Â Old Jim (Darragh Kelly), still looking after his ancient mammy, and young Brendan, looking after the family business â€“ the bar and the fields â€“ and Finbar (Frank McKusker), self-styled as a cut-above, who ran away to the city and then came back with money and propertyâ€¦ every one of them is totally believable.
Of course, thereâ€™s a lot of talking in The Weir, and you need to tune into the accents; you might also have to accept that the language is, credibly, bar-room not garden-party. There is humour too, both black and of the mickey-taking variety. And the authentic set design from Francis Oâ€™Connor is still to be found in many a rural-Irish bar.
I came to Edinburgh from the West of Ireland more than a decade ago; for one evening I was transported right back home.
Running at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until 6th February.
For more information go to www.lyceum.org.uk or phone 0131-248 4848