The Weir

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The Weir
Weir poster.jpg
Promotional poster for the Irish Theatre Group
Written byConor McPherson
Date premiered1997
Place premieredRoyal Court Theatre Upstairs, London
Original languageEnglish
SubjectA publican and three of his regulars attempt to spook a newcomer from Dublin but end up themselves frightened
SettingA pub in County Leitrim, mid-1990s[1]

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 opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre on 1 April 1999. As well as several other locations in the UK and the U.S., the play has been performed in Ireland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Australia and Canada.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

The play opens in a County Leitrim 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 reminiscences and banter. 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 (except 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 building of a hydroelectric dam, or weir, on a local waterway many years before is mentioned early in the conversation.


Valerie tells her tale in a 2011 production by OVO theatre company, St Albans, UK
  • 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.

Productions and cast[edit]

Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, UK (Original cast)

National Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic (2000)

The Gate Theatre, Dublin (2008)[3]

  • Finbar - Denis Conway
  • Jim - Mark Lambert
  • Jack - Sean McGinley
  • Brendan - David Ganly
  • Valerie - Genevieve O'Reilly

Irish Repertory Theatre, Off-Broadway (2013)

  • Finbar, Sean Gormley
  • Jim, John Keating
  • Jack, Dan Butler
  • Brendan, Billy Carter
  • Valerie, Tessa Klein

Donmar Warehouse, London (2013 Revival)[4]

Rover Rep Theatre, Hamburg

  • Finbar, Roger Graves
  • Jim, Jeff Caster
  • Jack, John Kirby
  • Brendan, Dave Duke
  • Valerie, Valerie Doyle

Melbourne Theatre Company, Melbourne, Australia 2015

Ljubljana National Drama Theatre, Slovenia - performing continuously since April 2001.

  • Finbar, Aleš Valič
  • Jim, Igor Samobor
  • Jack, Ivo Ban
  • Brendan, Branko Šturbej
  • Valerie, Saša Pavček

Abbey Theatre, Dublin 2022–23

Critical response[edit]

Reviews of The Weir have been positive. It won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play of 1997–98.[2] 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,"[6] "gentle, soft-spoken, delicately crafted work,"[7] and "this is my play of the decade...a modern masterpiece."[8]

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.[9] The Guardian critic Michael Billington listed The Weir as one of the 101 greatest plays of all time in his 2015 book The 101 Greatest Plays: From Antiquity to the Present.[10]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1999 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play


  1. ^ "The Weir". Decadent Theatre Company.
  2. ^ a b Kerrane, Kevin. The Structural Elegance of Conor McPherson's The Weir New Hibernia Review 10.4 (2006) 105-121
  3. ^ Meany, Helen. The Weir The Guardian, 12 June 2008
  4. ^ "The Weir, Donmar Warehouse". Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  5. ^ "The Weir". Abbey Theatre.
  6. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Dark Yarns Casting Light." New York Times. 2 April 1999, p. b 1.
  7. ^ Curtis, Nick. Evening Standard. 19 October 1998.
  8. ^ Langton, Robert G. The Express. 19 October 1998.
  9. ^ Page summarising the Royal National Theatre's NT2000 survey, originally at Archived July 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Accessed 14 October 2017
  10. ^ Billington, Michael (2015-09-02). "From Oedipus to The History Boys: Michael Billington's 101 greatest plays". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2017-10-15.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]