Did you know that the ADC Theatre has stopped putting on plays and are concentrating solely on the interval? To
that end they have converted what was the stage area into another bar. None of this is true, of course but upon entering the auditorium
for Combined Actorsí recent production of The Weir one could be forgiven for thinking that this was indeed the case. Tony Broscombís
excellent set portrayed brilliantly the one-room pub near Sligo in the mid 1990ís where the action takes place. Complete with beer
pumps and numerous Guinness posters, this truly set the scene.
The cast was extremely well led by the excellent Peter Simmons as Jack,
one of the pubís regulars. So regular in fact that he helps himself from the bar but nevertheless still pays. I particularly liked
his double- and treble-checking of the price list at the beginning. He has an incredible stage presence which is easily watchable.
Martin Prest as barman Brendan was equally easy going and totally believable. However, I think he must have been watering down the
lager! It did look a bit weak.
Another easy and understated performance came from Andrew Shepherd as Jim. I could really believe
in his character too. Mike Milne as Finbar was equally good and I liked his argument with Jack which, of course was settled with a
drink! Completing the strong cast was Helen Holgate as newcomer Valerie. She really brought out the emotion of her heart-rending story.
Indeed, each of the customers had their own moment, their own story to tell and these were all delivered with confidence and variation.
At this point I must mention the direction which was by Clive Young and which I felt was excellent. He moved the characters around
the stage with ease and purpose but without anything at all being forced or out of place. Too many times in amateur theatre do we
see a character stand up, walk across the room and sit in a different chair for no apparent reason. This never happens in real life
so why on stage? Some other directors would do well to learn from Cliveís example. The lighting was good, suitably dimming for the
ghost stories and the sound effects were also in keeping.
Costumes were appropriate and the Irish accents were all well maintained.
I have to admit that, having neither read nor seen the play before I was expecting at least one of the characters to turn out to be
a ghost in the end. The fact that they all packed up and went home was slightly disappointing. I enjoyed the play and thought it was
done really well, but I admit I couldnít really see the point of it if indeed there was one to see.
However, congratulations to Combined
Actors and all involved with a good eveningís theatre. I would have preferred to have seen the play presented straight through without
a break, but understand that an interval is required by the theatre. Perhaps my opening sentence is nearer the truth than I thought!
A Combined Actors of Cambridge production
by Conor McPherson
Directed by Clive Young
27th - 31th March 2012
ADC Theatre, Cambridge
by Chris Shinn