Scotsman Assembly, Edinburgh
August, 2000

The Weir was effectively Conor McPherson's first actual play; prior to it, his stage works consisted of either solo or interwoven monologues. This double-bill of two of his earlier one-man pieces is an event of two halves.

In Rum And Vodka, a tale of a young Dubliner's weekend bender, Alan Mooney pulls off the trick of being consistently engaging without ever "doing acting". He simply tells his story of losing his job, rowing with his wife, going off on a session and then falling in with a well-heeled young woman whom he drunkenly asks to "cure his life" in an easy, natural tone, occasionally veering off for low-key musings and gradually allowing us to see the growing booze-fuelled malevolence, but letting the narrative and the observations do the bulk of the work.

The Good Thief, telling of a small-time hired thug's "frightener" operation gone wrong, works less well as a piece of writing; McPherson seems to have been looking for dramatic events rather than relying on his mastery of unadorned storytelling. Actor Brendan Fleming, too, seems to concentrate more on playing the accent (virtually every sentence has the Irish rising cadence at its end) and his character rather than allowing a personality to arise out of his story.

Written for the Financial Times Web site,

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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