Brian Cox 'magnificent', in modern classic The Weir

Apr 30, 2013

The Bourne Identity's Cox 'takes the breath away' in revival of Conor McPherson's haunting play

Helen Warner

What you need to know
A revival of Conor McPherson's hit 1997 play The Weir has opened at the Donmar Warehouse, London. Donmar artistic director Josie Rourke is staging a new production of the play that established McPherson's reputation as one of Ireland's leading playwrights.

The Weir is set in a pub in rural Ireland where the local men gather for their daily pint. When a mysterious newcomer joins the locals, the men compete to impress her with ghost stories, unaware that her own story is more shocking than theirs.

Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity) and Ardal O'Hanlon (Father Ted) play local men along with Risteard Cooper and Peter McDonald. Dervla Kirwan plays the newcomer. Runs until 8 June.

What the critics like
Josie Rourke directs a pitch-perfect production that does full justice to both the humour and the depth of Conor McPherson's wonderful play, says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. "The Weir is a modern classic."

The Weir seems to grow richer with age in Rourke's beautifully acted revival, says Paul Taylor in The Independent. Dervla Kirwan is superb in the devastating climax, and Brian Cox's magnificent portrayal of a lonely bachelor "takes your breath away".

This is a play more concerned with atmosphere than action, and it's packed with eloquent gestures, says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. There are golden comic moments, flashes of poetry and dense silences - it's "delicate and haunting, a bittersweet pleasure".

What they don't like
Critics have almost nothing negative to say about this production. Ian Shuttleworth, in the Financial Times, admits he hasn't much to say about the play at all, because "not even a tiny false note is sounded in its hour and three-quarters".

Sign up for our daily newsletter