The Lonesome West tells the story of Valene and Coleman Connor, two boisterously feuding brothers caught in a deadlock over the death of their father, potato crisps and figurines of the Virgin Mary.
Emerging as part of Theatreworks 2008 Company Initiative and the Cultural Development Fund of the City of Port Phillip, The Lonesome West is the first play to be performed by Tiny Dynamite Theatre. Described by Tiny Dynamite Theatre as “sadistic, dangerous, inflammatory and hilarious”, The Lonesome West offers an intimate and memorable performance by avery talented and engaging cast.
As the play opens, Coleman is returning from his father’s funeral with the parish priest, Father Welsh. As they sit down discussing the events of the day over a glass of poteen (a traditional drink with a high alcoholic content) they are interrupted by Valene, who arrives with another figurine of the Virgin Mary to add to his hoard.
Set in the fictionalised version of Leenane, a town in the Connemara region, The Lonesome West is the third instalment in Martin McDonagh’s Leenane trilogy. Despairingly referred to by Father Welsh as the murder capital of the world, Leenane is also the setting of McDonagh’s preceding plays, The Beauty of Queen Leenane and A Skull in Connemara. There is a continuity between these plays which operates to contextualise McDonagh’s final instalment of The Lonesome West within a town where murderous tendencies are commonplace. By the time The Lonesome West takes place, two deaths have already occurred, all under the watchful, but drunken gaze of Father Welsh, played by Mark Tregonning. Tregonning is eager, self-loathing and exasperated as the priest charged with managing the wayward and murderous Leenane parish.
McDonagh exposes his characters through subtle, rapidly exchanged dialogue, traversing seemingly innocuous banalities like kitchen stoves and potato crisps with humour, while also inciting rage and violence. According to director Gorkem Acaroglu, The Lonesome West “lays bare the lonesome western world where no one wants to be alone, yet everybody wants his or her own space” and reveals how as a result, “most people end up lonesome despite themselves”. McDonagh’s play not only explores themes of loneliness, but also examines those of alienation, regret and forgiveness.
Ben Grant embodies the rage-riddled and caustic Coleman Connor with a disgruntled and acerbic presence. Throughout the play he menacingly taunts his figurine-collecting brother Valene, adeptly played by Luke Elliot with naïvete and comic bumbling charm. Accent coach Suzanne Heywood has done a brilliant job of helping Elliot, Grant, Tregonning and Gemma Falk who plays Girleen to canvas all McDonagh’s dialogue with an Irish accent. In addition to this, Emma Kingsbury’s masterful set design, created a detailed aesthetic of quaint decrepitude for Valene and Coleman to inhabit.
Tiny Dynamite Theatre’s The Lonesome West provides a pitch-perfect combination of brilliantly executed drama and humour and is an exemplary piece of debut theatre.
Tiny Dynamite Theatre present
The Lonesome West
by Martin McDonagh
Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland Street St. Kilda
Dates: September 4 – 21, 2008
Times: Tues - Sat @ 8.00pm; Sun @ 6.00pm
Tickets: $25 Full / $20 Conc.
Bookings: 9534 3388 | www.theatreworks.org.au