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“The Weir”

A very accomplished production, although I’ve come to expect nothing less from WDS.  I knew a little about the concept of the play, but was not sure whether I was going to like it or not.  I found it was a different type of play, which held my interest very well, and the exploration of the different characters and occurrences that had shaped their lives, made it interesting.  

WDS choose their plays well, which gives their actors the chance to explore many different and diverse characters.

The set was very reminiscent of a pub in an Irish backwater, with a well-stocked bar that didn’t have wine on its shelves, so obviously didn’t cater for women much, and the pumps and bottles looked good. It gave the play a slightly fey quality, which combined with good lighting effects for the monologues added to the atmosphere.

The overhead lighting using green and red for the monologues, plus the gradual dimming of the lights created a supernatural atmosphere, that was suited to the lib.

I would have liked more emphasis from the sound effects, it was difficult to hear the wind effect, just a little louder would have made it all a little more sinister.

I felt that somehow the monologues from the men were a little too introspective, as if they weren’t talking to the cast, whereas Valerie’s was all about interacting with the men, whilst retaining some self-absorbtion.

Malcolm Hobbs created a super character as Jack, the garage owner who had very rarely strayed from the village.  He got humour and edge to the part, which was very good.  His monologue regarding his experience with the ghost-like happenings in the village was delivered well, with good expression.  I liked the diversity of his portrayal, making Jack a very three-dimensional person.

Julie Gough, as Valerie, gave her character a wistful feel, with the reason why becoming apparent as she told of her experience with the death of her daughter.  A very poignant tale, which Julie conveyed well, giving it both emotion and a slight withdrawal from the situation, making it a very telling speech.  I was very taken with Julie and her interpretation of the part.

Steve Leadbetter was a very cheery publican, Brendan, not quite involved with the older residents ghostly tales, but showing a more mundane view of the proceedings.  Steve’s portrayal brought a nice down to earth quality to the more eerie feel of the other characters.

Jonathan Field created a normal but business-like character as Finbar, someone who knew a bit about the world outside the village, but who had experienced his own spiritual tale, that had unnerved him when he was younger and caused him to eventually move away.  Jonathan’s telling of the tale was quite unsettling.

The final character was Jim, as played by Robin Langer – a rather itinerant man, looking after his mother, and taking jobs where he could, never paying for a drink as far as we could ascertain!  Jim was an introspective character, and his monologue was more reflective than the others, but needed a bit more emphasis on the perversion of his spectre, as I nearly missed the meaning of it all.

I thought the characters were all very diverse, making it an interesting play, and the Irish accents were mostly maintained – a very difficult thing to keep going, so well done to everyone.

An intriguing play, which I enjoyed and which kept up the standard of WDS productions very well.

Wheathampstead Dramatic Society


Review date: 19th Feb 2016

Memorial Hall, Wheathampstead

Director: Jan Westgarth


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