It wouldn’t surprise me (if it were possible to measure) that Boston’s professional Irish performers (working principally in the Sugan and Tir Na theaters) have no peer in North America…and beyond! I don’t think you can see better performances of contemporary Irish theater (with one exception, which would be New Rep’s incomparable production of THE LIEUTENANT OF INNISHMORE a few years back, starring Tir Na’s Colin Hamel).
Tir Na is currently acting the heck out of Martin McDonagh’s outrageous black comedy (a tragedy for some), THE LONESOME WEST. No, nothing to do with “the old west.” McDonagh’s play is part of the Leenane trilogy, about hardscrabble life away from Ireland’s urban centers. McDonagh paints a pitiful picture of the have-nots---imbued with his famous sardonic wit.
Colin Hamel portrays one of two brothers (in director Carmel O’Reilly’s smart production) who are constantly at war, threatening mayhem and inventing ways to aggravate the other. Questionable circumstances surround the death of their father and the subsequent inheritance (meager though it is) by Billy Meleady as the other sibling.
The battles are hysterical. Their braggadocio is wildly inventive and although you could watch the two of them have at it all evening, there are two additional, wonderful characters: Lisa O’Brien gives a marvelously spunky (and touching) performance as the girl who delivers moonshine to the Connor brothers…and Derry Woodhouse as the alcoholic parish priest (who “never touched the stuff before [he] came to this town”).
Woodhouse gives a hilarious tour de force as a defeated, broken-hearted hard drinker. Lord knows, he has reason enough, just in the Connor family. Their amends alone are worth the price of admission. Don’t miss this one.