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THE AGE: The Lonesome West – review

See review in its original context here by Cameron Woodhead for The Age.

★★★★

The Lonesome West review: Family feud heats up in compelling black comedy

Kin Collective’s production of the The Lonesome West, the final leg of the Leenane trilogy, brings to life a brutally amusing Cain and Abel story set in the same shit-splat Irish town as the first two.

The Connor brothers, Coleman (James O’Connell) and Valene (Mark Diaco), are always at each other’s throats. They can’t help themselves. Even freshly returned from their father’s funeral, with the parish priest (Dean Cartmel) in the room, they’re at it hammer and tongs.

Valene is an odd duck, peevish and miserly. He collects figurines of Jesus, Mary and the saints, and inexplicably owns their late father’s whole estate, lording that over Coleman. For his part, Coleman is cheerfully vindictive, his affable persona barely disguising a dangerous lack of impulse control.

Their endless feud (as well as a spate of recent murders and suicides in the parish) has driven the sensitive Father Welsh (Dean Cartmel) to yet another crisis of faith, as Girleen (Laura Maitland), the teenage girl who’s a bit in love with him, looks helplessly on.

The play sports a terrific performance from O’Connell, whose utterly credible, funny and alarming portrayal of a charismatic sadist steals the show.

Opposite him, Mark Diaco’s Valene suffers from a not-quite-Irish accent, but he excavates the unlikeable sanctimony of the character and gives O’Connell plenty to work with. Together, they’re as untameable and compelling to watch as an extreme weather event.

Cartmel might be a bit young to play the agonised priest, but he gets the bones of it. Laura Maitland lights up the stage as the too-knowing, and too-naive, teenager you just know her murderous hometown is fated to crush.

John Banas’ direction achieves excellent comic timing and The Lonesome West has the most laugh-out-loud moments of the three plays. If you opt to see them all in one day, you’ll be reduced to hilarity by the black extremity of McDonagh’s vision.

THEATRE
THE LONESOME WEST ★★★★
Martin McDonagh
Kin Collective fortyfivedownstairs, Until June 15.


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