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REVIEW: The Weir

by Rebecca M. Alvin
Photo: John Ward

The Irish have long been known for their ability to spin a good tale. Storytelling, along with pub culture, and a kind of Irish magical realism are the dominant elements of Conor McPherson’s 1997 play The Weir, currently running at Harbor Stage in Wellfleet. Set in a country pub, the one-set play revolves around four local men, Jack (Dennis Cunningham), Jim (Robin Bloodworth), Brendan (Ari Lew), and Finbar (Gabriel Kuttner), and a woman from Dublin named Valerie (Stacy Fischer) who’s just purchased a home in the area. What begins as a friendly evening taking the chill off with liquor and stories of the unexplained, turns darker and darker, culminating in Valerie’s story, which reveals the deep and abiding pain that brought her to this tiny community.

The art of storytelling has been around for ages, long before mediated narratives dominated our lives. These stories of our ancestors, told person to person—perhaps while sitting in a pub somewhere—remind us of our common humanity through their ability to simultaneously report interesting, unusual circumstances, while also feeling very familiar. The ability to tell a good story is a sought after trait and one that seems to come naturally to Jim, Finbar, and especially Jack.

Structured as a narrative made up of monologues that speak of the unknown and of past regrets, each character in this play is given the opportunity to reveal something of him or herself that is unsettling (with the exception of Brendan the pub owner and bartender, who plays his cards close to his chest). And yet until its climax, the play is oddly jovial. There are no villains in this play, even if there are dramatic tensions amongst this gathering of drinkers. In fact, most of the play is very funny. With the exception of Finbar, all the men are bachelors. We don’t often look at the regrets of bachelors these days, preferring to think of them as wild womanizers who refuse to be tied down, as opposed to the way we look at single women: as lonely ladies ruefully listening to their biological clocks becoming louder and louder as they age. Here we have a thirty-something bartender with no interest in marriage, a forty-something local who lives with his mother, and a fifty-something elder who, with great subtlety, lets it be known that he is lonely and does wish he’d met the right person to settle down with.

It’s a neat trick to take something like this and infuse it with humor and joy so that far from being a heavy tale of woe, it is entertaining from start to finish in that very Irish way. Dark humor mixed with tales of fairies and ghosts that you can almost see frolicking in the green hills of Ireland balance The Weir. The cast, under the direction of Harbor Stage regular Robert Kropf, are all quite good, although the accents come and go on occasion. Of particular note is Cunningham, whose Jack is filled with sarcasm, irony, and impatience, while still coming through as a good man, the kind you root for.

The Weir is performed at Harbor Stage, 15 Kendrick Ave., Wellfleet, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. through July 7. For tickets and information, go to the box office, call 508.349.6800 or visit


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Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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