The Beauty Queen of Leenane at Theatre Burlington plays two more nights, February 14th and 15th. You must book your tickets. You do not want to miss this production. It breaks all your notions of what community theatre can do. It deserves a full house and a standing ovation. It’s hard to put it in a category. It’s most certainly a thriller but it’s not without romance or laughter. Perhaps the word is haunting.
First, it’s a Tony Award winning play by Martin Mc Donagh with a plot that will send a chill down your spine. A deadly mother/daughter dysfunction plays itself out in a decrepit Irish cottage. Messages are still sent on foot in this isolated, psychological, petri dish where lies and manipulation take on life and death significance.
Director, Moe Dwyer assembles a transcendent cast and crew that lift this tale off of the page with evocative clarity. Visually speaking, the set, designed by Tricia Ward and Michelle Spanik, not only captures the essence of a remote cottage in Ireland, but also speaks to the accumulation of filth and emotional scarring built up like a karmic residue in the house. You shudder to imagine, for instance, what might be growing in the unkempt corners of both this kitchen and the minds of its occupants.
Details like the beautiful in–set fireplace/oven and the barn board wood door that blocks out the constant drone of rain are so evocative you can’t help but feel the damp in your bones. The walls are washed with a patina of age and the lighting suggests there might be something lurking there that we can’t quite clearly see. It reeks of secrets before we even meet the players.
From there, performances take us even deeper into the dark heart of human behaviour. In a casting revelation, Kelly Kimpton as Maureen Folan and Janice Nutter as her 70 year old, nagging mother Mag Folan are adversarial co–dependents that you won’t soon forget. It’s hard to say who is crazy and who is being driven crazy. Both garner sympathy and disgust in equal amounts leaving the audience in a moral quandary about who deserves what in the end.
In lighter moments, Kym Wyatt McKenzie as Ray Dooley keeps us entertained with his dimwitted interchanges with the two women. He has no idea what they are capable of which gives the audience a chance to catch their breath amid the scenes of abysmal cruelty between mother and daughter.
Capturing the humour in this production is a fine tuned skill. In that regard, Pato Dooley, played by Matthew Wilson has the hardest task. He must provide laughter and hope in an otherwise malevolent scenario and this he does with remarkable skill.
In a stellar theatrical moment Wilson, as Pato, re reads his letter to Maureen before he sends it. His rendering is so subtle, funny, and tender that any true theatre lover would have paid the entrance fee of $25 dollars just to hear his nuanced interpretation of their correspondence.
Bravo Theatre Burlington. V
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
By Martin McDonagh
Directed by Maureen Dwyer
Produced by Michelle Spanik
February 14 and 15
2311 New Street,
For tickets: 905.639.770
or visit theatreburlington.on.ca