Volume 95, Issue 29

Wednesday, October 24, 2001
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This movie a hell of a ripping good time

Stochansky solo set a rarity

Weir in for a good time tonight

Disc of the week

Weir in for a good time tonight

The Weir
Bill Meaden, Scott Yallop, Jason Paquette, Tony Harding, Bronwyn Powell Wasse
Directed By:
Don Fleckser

By Stephen Libin
Gazette Staff

Sharing a pint of Guinness or a glass of whiskey with the usual gang has always been a part of Irish culture.

Sure enough, The Weir – which takes place in rural Ireland – is a play set entirely in a small pub.

The premise is simple. Jack (Bill Meaden) and Jim (Jason Paquette) visit a quaint tavern every night where the bartender/owner Brendan (Scott Yallop) serves and chats with them in a manner that gives the impression these men have been patrons at the bar for quite some time.

Valerie (Bronwyn Powell Wasse) has recently purchased a cottage in the surrounding countryside and has been brought to the bar by Finbar (Tony Harding), a hotel owner who thinks highly of himself.

The bachelors try to impress their guest by telling old folklore of the region, but are soon put in their place when Valerie shares an experience of her own that frightens them all.

The plot is well-paced, but long. In each of the first four stories, the tension is built up gradually, until it disappoints the audience with each conclusion.

The lack of humour and simple conversations between tales help in returning the atmosphere to a normal fervour, yet within minutes, another character begins their own ghost story, overwhelming the audience but also dragging the play on for too long.

Meaden does an incredible job as Jack. The elderly bachelor describes himself as "cantankerous," yet Meaden is able to give the character just enough wit to add another dimension. While his Irish accent is flawless, the same cannot be said for his castmates.

Jason Paquette's portrayal of Jim is inconsistent. At times, his Irish accent was impeccable, but at others, it disappeared completely, making Jim seem like two different people.

Paquette also struggled in his stage placement. For the first thirty minutes, he is positioned on a barstool, upstaging Brendan and making it difficult to see and hear him.

In her portrayal of Valerie, Powell Wasse does a relatively good job, but she overacts when frantically recalling her past.

The sound effects are excellent throughout the production. The constant sound of rain and gusting winds in the background is distracting at first, but once the audience becomes enthralled in the ghost stories on-stage, the weather only helps the apprehensive atmosphere.

The minimalist set works wonders for this play. Consisting of a small wooden bar, three tables, a few chairs and a fireplace, the relatively simple stage gives the pub a no-nonsense feeling.

Although The Weir is a chilling production, its length and somewhat paltry performances may leave audiences disappointed.

The Weir plays at the Old Factory Theatre through Saturday, Oct. 27.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001