Western Theatre Conspiracy

A Skull in Connemara
by Martin McDonagh

Date 2 - 18 June 2005 Venue Waterfront Theatre Reviewer Jane Penistan


 

Director Richard Wolfe Fight Director Adam Henderson Original music/Sound Chris Hind Sets David Roberts Costumes Sandy Buck Lighting design Alan Brodie Sound Jesse Frank Stage Manager Anne Taylor

 

 


Western Theatre Conspiracy: Skull in Connemara

This fast talking Irish play, A Skull in Connemara, is one of laughter and surprises. It comprises macabre humour, Irish customs, and idioms, a little slapstick thrown in for good measure, and an unsolved mystery at the conclusion. What a sum of parts! Above all, this comedy-tragedy-mystery is superbly performed by four consummate actors giving four stellar performances.

David Roberts provides a complex two-part set of a cottage interior flanked by a graveyard. The interior is warm and cozy, with its fire and well worn furniture, while the graveyard is eerie when dimly lit, but the place of surprises and much physical and verbal humour in the daytime sunshine. What is exhumed in the graveyard is less than expected.

The Properties Department contributes much to this production, providing an apparently endless supplies skeletal remains. The drunken destruction of these is both disturbing and frightening.

 

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William Samples as Mick Dowd is the central character, on stage almost throughout. His mercurial transitions through complacency, kindness, mystery, deception, amusement, astonishment, rage, inebriation and, finally, satisfaction never miss a beat. This performance has to be seen to be believed.

As Maryjohnny Rafferty, Wendy Morrow Donaldson provides him with a contemporary and a sympathetic drinking companion. She is the grandmother of the two younger members of the cast. The Hanlon brothers Mairtin and Thomas are completely different. Mairtin (Johann Helf) is adolescent and not very inclined to work, but good hearted, if somewhat simple, while Thomas is a policeman, full of his own cleverness and a scheming, somewhat mentally unbalanced individual. These four widely dissimilar characters provide a decidedly deadly and explosive cast cocktail.

While some audience members may be offended at the dark, macabre humour of this work, the standard of the presentation is so high that it should be seen for the sake of the acting, direction, and production, and yes, its black Irish humour.

2005 Jane Penistan

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