The Weir at Richmond Theatre
It’s said that all good theatre has storytelling at its heart and the Olivier award-winning play The Weir is a grand tapestry of tale telling. During one billowy winter evening in a rural Irish pub, the locals each take it upon themselves to share personal stories of folklore, ghosts and heartbreak. With each narrative culminating into a greater story akin to the human condition, the piece vividly stirs up themes of hope, loneliness and regret.
A softly glowing hearth illuminates the intricately decorated Richmond Theatre stage, which is made to resemble a small Irish home-cum-bar. The set, similar to the play itself, strives for authenticity. From the family photos decorating the walls, to the odd trinkets scattering the dusty bar shelves, it is not difficult to imagine passing a long winter among these folk and all of their idiosyncratic charm. Yet, with the arrival of a stranger in town, there is something in the air, and all seems set to change.
This is where Conor McPherson’s unique storytelling begins. He not only creates a tale true to life, but captures each brief moment in time and instils it with all the magic of memory and experience. The actors brilliantly embody each memory, with all the nuances of movement and stillness, and before long each character is conjured before our eyes. This breaks the traditional illusion of time in a piece of theatre. Notably, there is a palpable feeling that time has always passed, that somehow we have already observed its passing, or seen the characters somewhere before. Furthermore, the masterful use of sound, or rather, silence, creates an illusion of creating from nothing – which is very much like reliving a memory before it evaporates again.
The Weir skilfully masters what other plays fail to grasp: bringing the human voice to life. In this powerful theatrical narrative, time and space distil through a small Irish pub, and are expelled through the spellbinding delivery of each haunting tale. There is seemingly no specific thing to acquire from watching it, just as there is nothing at all to bring. It is simply a play to enjoy, much like a story – to sit and be thrilled, exhilarated, moved, and inspired.
Photo: Marc Brenner
The Weir is at Richmond Theatre from 27th February until 3rd March 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.