Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Weir at The Gate

It's always a pleasure to go to the Gate: easy car parking, great view everywhere in the auditorium, well acted, professionally presented theatre.

The program cover told us what this play was all about - it featured a shot by the Magnum photographer Martin Parr of the Mayflower Ballroom in Drumshambo, Co. Leitrim - some time in the early Eighties. The image speaks volumes about spiritual desolation and quiet desperation in rural Ireland. The play was a more garrulous version of the photograph and was set in a pub rather than a ballroom. Sean McKinley was wonderful as the embittered old bachelor who had lost his one chance of love. It was all too believable and naturalistic - although I did wonder whether they were drinking real alcohol. Was the Guinness tap not working a ploy to enable them to drink alcohol-free lager - because it looks no different than its alcoholic equivalent. I brood about stuff like that. The play dwelt on the superstitions of those immured in the darkness of rural life (both real and metaphorical), and of their isolation and loneliness. There is no redemption, or much hope - just humour as a whistle in the dark. And lots of drink.