The Weir, Cork Opera House

Kilmeen Drama Group were worthy winners of the RTE All-Ireland Drama Festival in 2011.

On that occasion they presented Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark; this year they return with Conor McPherson’s The Weir.

The Weir is a mighty piece of writing. First staged in 1997, it has already become something of a period piece, not least because its characters smoke throughout.

The characters — four men and a woman — gather in a country pub and spend the evening telling ghost stories. Finbar (Dcclan Price), who has just rented a house to the newcomer. Valerie (Nora Scannell), lets slip that it might be haunted. Finbar recalls a bad experience he had in his own family home, when he spent a night unable to stir from in front of the fire, believing there was a supernatural presence on the stairs. Jim (Donie Walsh), an odd-job man, reveals his encounter with a ghost when he was digging a grave in a neighbouring parish.

Valerie tops the lot of them, revealing she has lost a daughter, and that she took a phone call from the child shortly after her death.

Brendan (Denis O’Sullivan), the bar owner, and Jack (Denis O’Mahony), the local mechanic, preside over the evening, the one serving drink, the other delivering nuggets of wisdom. O’Mahony’s performance as Jack was the strongest; catching the humour and pathos of the role.

The Weir is one hour and 40 minutes long, and performed without an interval. It says much for Kilmeen’s professionalism that there wasn’t a dull moment throughout. That attention to detail extended to the set design, which involved constructing an entire pub on stage.


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