Irish stories at Walterdale Playhouse
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012 03:15 pm
Oct. 17 to 27
10322 – 83 Ave.
Tickets: $12 to $18 Call 780-420-1757 or purchase online at www.tixonthesquare.ca
With tonight’s start of Walterdale Playhouse’s new season, the community theatre is about to jump into what many consider the true Irish sport – a downing of pints served with a wink and a grin.
Aye, Conor McPherson’s The Weir is on the menu with an evening of tall tales set to replenish the spirit. Running Oct. 17 to 27, The Weir is an escape to a remote part of western Ireland where three local lads (in varying stages of middle age) swap spooky stories to impress an attractive young woman.
Valerie has just moved from Dublin and her real estate agent introduces her to the pub where a group of lonely souls seeks a placid retreat from the emotional and physical storms of the outside world.
When the men discover Valerie has moved into a house thought to be haunted, they ramp up the evening taking turns telling eerie stories. Each of the stories reveals surprising aspects about their narrators, but it is the final tale, told by Valerie herself that takes a strange and unexpected twist.
It’s at this point that director Anne Marie Szucs refuses to divulge the plot’s next stage.
“I’m not trying to be precious. It’s just that the story is beautifully written and I want to keep the supernatural elements of fairies, ghosts and those moments of what’s-on-the-other-side from being uncovered before their time. It’s not really a thriller, but it has moments that give you pause.”
Szucs, who last directed Much Ado About Nothing, is fascinated with the lyrical qualities of McPherson’s writing. She is not alone. McPherson is considered to be one of best contemporary Irish playwrights of the century. Some of his most praised plays include The Lime Tree Bower, Shining City and The Seafarer.
“He is somebody that can write something so simple on the surface, yet is very complex underneath. I am attracted to the truth in the characters and the discovery of who they are.”
Adding his own thoughts, assistant director David Johnston, a former St. Albert resident says, “The language is so endlessly entertaining. It’s a lovely tutorial on Irish culture. It’s a slice of life in heightened, surreal, sad and beautiful ways.”
The Weir’s potential success lies in large part due to a realistic presentation of Irish culture, and it turns out Szucs is the ideal director.
In September she spent a week in Ireland touring the Guinness factory and visiting a raft of country pubs.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find a food court. People go to pubs. They are definitely the hub of the community. It’s very much a pedestrian culture,” Szucs says.
As for the pub in The Weir, “They call it a pub. But it’s like going to a buddy’s house and paying for your drinks. It’s very important to them. Just the sense of community you can have with a complete stranger over a beer. This is how they live and you are welcome to join.”