Promotional poster for the Irish Theatre Group
|Written by||Conor McPherson|
|Place premiered||Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, London|
|Subject||a publican and three of his regulars attempt to spook a newcomer from Dublin but end up themselves frightened|
|Setting||a bar in rural Ireland|
The Weir is a play written by Conor McPherson in 1997. It was first produced at The Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in London, England, on 4 July 1997. It first appeared on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre on 1 April 1999. It has since been performed in Toronto, Dublin, Belfast, Bolton, Bury St Edmunds, Hamburg, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Chicago, Buffalo, Washington, D.C., Detroit, San Jose, and San Francisco.
The play opens in a rural Irish pub with Brendan, the publican and Jack, a car mechanic and garage owner. These two begin to discuss their respective days and are soon joined by Jim. The three then discuss Valerie, a pretty young woman from Dublin who has just rented an old house in the area.
Finbar, a businessman, arrives with Valerie, and the play revolves around reminiscence and the kind of banter which only comes about amongst men who have a shared upbringing. After a few drinks, the group begin telling stories with a supernatural slant, related to their own experience or those of others in the area, and which arise out of the popular preoccupations of Irish folklore: ghosts, fairies and mysterious happenings.
After each man (with the exception of Brendan) has told a story, Valerie tells her own: the reason why she has left Dublin. Valerie's story is melancholy and undoubtedly true, with a ghostly twist which echoes the earlier tales, and shocks the men who become softer, kinder, and more real. There is the hint that the story may lead to salvation and, eventually, a happy ending for two of the characters.
Finbar and Jim leave, and in the last part of the play, Jack's final monologue is a story of personal loss which, he comments, is at least not a ghostly tale but in some ways is nonetheless about a haunting.
The play is as much about lack of close relationships and missed connections as it is about anything else. The weir of the title is a hydroelectric dam on a nearby waterway that is mentioned only in passing as Finbar describes the local attractions to Valerie. It anticipates and symbolises the flow of the stories into and around each other.
- Jack, a mechanic and garage owner in his fifties.
- Brendan, the owner of the pub in which the play is set. He is in his thirties.
- Jim, Jack's assistant, in his forties.
- Finbar Mack, a local businessman in his late forties.
- Valerie, a Dublin woman in her thirties.
Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, UK (Original cast)
- Finbar, Dermot Crowley
- Jim, Kieran Ahern
- Jack, Jim Norton
- Brendan, Brendan Coyle
- Valerie, Michelle Fairley
- Finbar, Václav Postránecký
- Jim, Jan Hartl
- Jack, Alois Švehlík
- Brendan, Alexej Pyško
- Valerie, Miluše Šplechtová
Irish Repertory Theatre, New York, NY (2013)
- Finbar, Sean Gormley
- Jim, John Keating
- Jack, Dan Butler
- Brendan, Billy Carter
- Valerie, Tessa Klein
- Finbar, Risteárd Cooper
- Jim, Ardal O'Hanlon
- Jack, Brian Cox
- Brendan, Peter McDonald
- Valerie, Dervla Kirwan
Rover Rep Theatre, Hamburg
- Finbar, Roger Graves
- Jim, Jeff Caster
- Jack, John Kirby
- Brendan, Dave Duke
- Valerie, Valerie Doyle
Reviews of The Weir have been positive. It won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play of 1997–98. In addition, McPherson won the Critics' Circle Award as the most promising playwright in 1998 as a direct result of the success of The Weir. The play has received lofty praise, such as "beautifully devious," "gentle, soft-spoken, delicately crafted work," and "this is my play of the decade...a modern masterpiece."
The Weir was voted one of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th Century in a poll conducted by the Royal National Theatre, London. It tied at 40th place with Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, Samuel Beckett's Endgame and Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge.
Awards and nominations
- 1999 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play
- Kerrane, Kevin. The Structural Elegance of Conor McPherson's The Weir New Hibernia Review 10.4 (2006) 105-121
- "The Weir, Donmar Warehouse". Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Brantley, Ben. Dark Yarns Casting Light. New York Times. 2 April 1999, p. b 1.
- Curtis, Nick. Evening Standard. 19 October 1998.
- Langton, Robert G. The Express. 19 October 1998