- part of Arches Theatre Company 10th Aniversary Season.
Playwright - J.M. Synge
Director - Andy Arnold
Company - Arches Theatre Company
Venue - The Arches www.thearches.co.uk 0901 022 0300
253 Argyll St opposite the Argyll St exit from Central Station. Disabled access to both floors, cafe bar, theatre and toilet facilities.
Dates - 12 - 27 October no performance 22 Oct at 7.30pm, £8/£4, 2 for 1 on opening night
Reviewer - Thelma Good
The Playwoman of The Western World
Outside is the Atlantic Ocean, while we are in Pegeen's father's cottage breathing in the reek of the peats on the central hearth ringed with sea washed stones. The audience watch seated around the walls where candles gutter. Here Pegeen lives measuring out porter and passing the time with her father's customers on the wild coast of Mayo. Muireann Kelly is a wildly spirited Pegeen waiting for a dispensation to marry Shawn, a snivelling, cowering timorous paroxysm of a man, shaking like a feather finely created by Ross Stenhouse.
In through the door one evening comes a tattered young man, a rangy Christy, Aonghus Weber, even more clarty than the others. But then he's on the run so he says The tale he tells about why gets taller each time he tells it. At times Weber's Christy swallows his words rather than project them but he's got the lively, spiritedly feckless air. Pegeen listens to Christy not really too interested until Sarah and Susan come in, drawn to see his horror for themselves.
Oh Christy's got a tongue on him and all the women have a thirst for something more than Mayo's offered so far. Also in for a look is Widow Quinn who snakes her way across the cottage weaving her spell, dressed in black and purple with shells and feathers in her hair, clothes and round her neck. She is the real exotic of the play, the most human though feared of all Synge's Playboy characters and Alison Peebles gives her Widow Quinn full laldy, a woman certain of her power. It's clear she's even stronger than Pegeen who only wins the encounter 'cause she's got strength from being beside her hearth.
Sometimes the Irish is too fast and feral to follow, but not enough to lose the plot. As Christy's father Will Bill Boyd's accent has a drift across the Irish Sea at times but otherwise he has Old Mahon's measure. Blood splattered, a Francis Bacon painting horribly brought to life and much more a wreck than his son Christy, with his arrival things take a madder more desperate tone. It's not a top notch production, a voice coach had funds allowed would have helped some performances, but there's a lot of atmosphere and drive and the Widow Quinn is well worth encountering.
© Thelma Good 16 October 2001
Review of Juno and The Paycock the other play in Arches Theatre Company 10th Aniversary Season.