The Beauty Queen of Leenane | Kin CollectiveLeft – Michala Banas and Noni Hazlehurst. Cover – Linc Hasler, Michala Banas and Noni Hazlehurst. Photos – Lachlan Woods

The Beauty Queen of Leenane
is the first play in Martin McDonagh’s “Leenane Trilogy”, a series of plays that confront the sometimes gruesome mediocrity of domestic life in rural Ireland. The Beauty Queen of Leenane portrays the story of Mag and Maureen Folan, and exposes the depraved cruelty of a mother-daughter relationship that has been pushed beyond the extremes of loathing.

The play opens with the sight of disheveled Mag Foley, sitting in her rocking chair with cantankerous anticipation. Her mouth twists in animated complaint as her daughter Maureen enters the house. The younger woman hunches slightly, acceding to the demands of her mother, her vibrancy vanishing under the oppression of her mundane responsibility. With this first caustic scene, the fictionalised world of McDonagh’s Leenane clicks into action.

Presented by Kin Collective and performed at fortyfivedownstairs, The Beauty Queen of Leenane is an edgy and confrontational theatre experience. Built on the solid foundation of McDonagh’s exuberant and razor-sharp dialogue, The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a raw black comedy, always playing in the shadows of violence and grotesque honesty.

Noni Hazelhurst embodies the dependent and complaint-ridden Mag Folan with a disgruntled and cutting precision. Throughout the play, Mag’s dialogue toys with the nerves of her begrudging daughter, Maureen. Brilliantly played by Michala Banas, Maureen remains a thinly veiled enigma of barely-suppressed rage and resentment. The dynamic between Hazelhurst and Banas is played with such adept tension that the revelations of the play’s climactic scenes remain well concealed, adding to a heightened suspense that will keep the audience guessing. The scenes which include Pato Dooley and Ray Dooley, played by Linc Hasler and Dylan Watson respectively, add to the sense of dread and foreboding that permeates the play. Their buoyant performances bring perspective and humour to a stage set for eerie and dark occurrences.

Director Declan Eames and Assistant Director Jo Booth have created a credible and atmospheric version of Leenane for Melbourne audiences. Casey-Scott Corless has created a masterful domestic interior, in which the minutiae of daily life plays against the distressed aesthetic of decay, rain and cold.

Kin Collective’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane is an exemplary rendition of Martin McDonagh’s work. It presents a stellar cast, who adeptly bring the subterranean reality of remote Leenane to excruciating and pitch-perfect life. 

Kin Collective presents
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
by Martin McDonagh

Directed by Declan Eames
Venue: fortyfivedownstairs | 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Dates: Thu 29 – Sun 31 May, 2014
Tickets: $36 – $28, Trilogy Sunday (all three shows) $85, Trilogy Pass (all three plays, excludes Sunday performances) $84
Bookings: | 03 9662 9966

Presented by Kin Collective as part of THE LEENANE TRILOGY
A Skull in Connemara, Wed 4 – Sat 7 Jun (Preview Tue 3 Jun), 8pm
The Lonesome West, Wed 11 – Sat 14 Jun (Preview Tue 10 Jun), 8pm
Trilogy Sundays, (all three plays, includes lunch & refreshments, veg. option avail.) Sun 1, 8 & 15 Jun, 1pm (ends 7pm)

Most read Melbourne reviews

It’s been a long time coming, but the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of William...

Hands down, Dale Burridge has one of Australia's best musical theatre voices, but you'd be...

With bright characters wafting in from every direction. Director Ben Adams has cut up this...

The soul of this piece is not the clothes themselves but what is hidden or declared in reference...

It’s been a long time in the making but Red Stitch Actors' Theatre was at last able to present...