Left – Dean Cartmel. Dean Cartmel, Mark Diaco and James O'Connell. Photos – Lachlan Woods
If you missed any or all of the plays in The Leenane Trilogy, then I am sad for you. Kin Collective’s work with the comedy/drama/tragedies of Martin McDonagh is nothing short of stupendous theatre – mostly because it is so damn theatrical, with wonderful performances of some of the best story telling in the most vivid language you’ll get anywhere. The Leenane Trilogy grapples with the essential elements of theatre: language, story, character, conflict and theatrical devices; all are far more present than in most plays you see these days. Each of the three plays forms a magnificent yarn, and tells a truly strange tale of bizarre characters in a distorted yet recognisable world. McDonagh has taken rural Irish character tropes and given us extended versions of oppression, madness, selfishness and lack of perspective, playing out in ways both hilarious and tragic.
In The Lonesome West, big, big themes are dealt with via the absurd physicalized dynamic between the two brothers, Valene, played by Mark Diaco, and Coleman (James O’Conell), locked in ugly co-dependence. John Banas directs a fabulous cast: Laura Maitland comes into play as young Girleen, whose heart is reaching out to the unseeing and traumatised Father Welsh/Walsh (Dean Cartemel). Alcoholism, religious repression, crises of faith, the hypocrisy of religion, death, sex, war suicide and love; in short, the big stories of life are all confined to Valene and Coleman’s decaying kitchen, and in this world there are few happy endings.
The structure of the play develops in a linear fashion; no departure from convention there – the whole is tightly held in ‘biblicalesque’ story of morality and revenge. Power shifts and tragedy leap and cavort but never amble, even when the action involves exchanges of the most mundane nature; interactions are emotional landmines, exploding to cause the greatest injury short of killing. All the sad history of the country and the peculiarity of the Irish character are tightly bundled up in the Leenane Trilogy plays; you want Irishness, you get it – Irishness endearing yet psychotic, coloured with warts, boils, carbuncles and death.
Rumour has it that the Kin Collective may bring The Leenance Trilogy back to fortyfivedownstairs next year. If you’re any sort of lover of theatre then whatever you do, don’t miss out on this second chance. Truly.
Kin Collective presents
The Lonesome West
by Martin McDonagh
Directed by John Banas
Venue: fortyfivedownstairs | 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Dates: 11 – 14 June, 2014
Tickets: $36 – $28, Trilogy Sunday (all three shows) $85, Trilogy Pass (all three plays, excludes Sunday performances) $84
Bookings: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com | 03 9662 9966
Presented by Kin Collective as part of THE LEENANE TRILOGY
The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Thu 29 – Sun 31 May, 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)