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The Lonesome West

Martin McDonagh
Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
(2008)

Production photo

Stefan Escreet directs the third play in Martin McDonagh's Leenane trilogy, The Lonesome West, in the newly-extended studio theatre in a traverse configuration.

Brothers Coleman and Valene constantly fight like cat and dog, even after their father's funeral, almost to the point of killing one another. Coleman shot his father dead, allegedly by accident, but Valene has inherited everything from their father and is extremely possessive towards his belongings, especially his supply of poteen, his ever-growing collection of ornaments of saints and his new stove. Father Welsh tries to make peace between the brothers, but he has problems of his own, as he has extreme doubts about his faith and about his ability as a priest. Girleen is a schoolgirl who delivers illegal liquor to them and whom the brothers both have fantasies about but who seems to have a crush on Father Welsh.

McDonagh's very black but very funny comedy is given a very entertaining production with some frighteningly realistic fights, directed by Kate Waters. Sophia Lovell Smith's set recreates a very dingy living room with a ladder up to an upper door and several layers of linoleum showing through the worn patches.

Matthew Vaughan is great as the slobbish older brother Coleman, intentionally and cruelly goading his pouting, childish brother Valene, James Wooldridge, into attacking him. The two actors work superbly together, with hilarious and occasionally shocking results. Andrew Pollard is brilliantly pathetic as Father Welsh and Amy Humphreys plays the teenage Girleen very convincingly.

This is a nicely-paced production with some great moments of comedy, such as when the brothers are trying hard to be nice to one another for Father Welsh's sake, of great tension, whenever the brothers are left alone together, and some really touching moments, such as when Father Welsh is talking to Girleen by the lake. This certainly isn't family holiday fare, but is well worth a look.

In rep until 7th November

Reviewer: David Chadderton