Irish Heritage Center and THE WEIR

The Weir by Conor McPherson
Theatre Recap by Tony Lopez

My wife and I went to see our good friend Allyson West perform at the Irish Heritage Center on the east side of Cincinnati. The play being performed was called The Weir, written by Conor McPherson. The Irish Heritage Center is a great big old schoolhouse that has been repurposed as a performance space and the old classrooms are now used as different rooms for parties and different events. The space where the Weir took place was their newly renovated pub. It is gorgeous. It has a beautifully crafted bar with plenty of Irish whiskey and ales to satisfy even the thirstiest Irishman. We were seated all around the perimeter of the room, while the actors were able to use the space in the middle of the room and behind the bar as their stage.

The setting for the Weir is in a small pub in an Old Irish Village. It is a story about four friends, the barkeep Brendan, Jack, Jim and Finbar reminiscing old times while welcoming a new neighbor from Dublin into their community; Valerie, played by Allyson West. They begin with some nice banter between themselves, mainly trying to impress the lovely young lady, sharing jokes and recalling old times, then the play turned to a darker place. The bar regulars begin speaking of ‘life after death,’ and the supernatural. All of the men share stories of seeing ghosts, which then prompts Valerie to deliver a bombshell as to why she moved from out of Dublin. Allyson West delivered a spine tingling monologue that made you feel her character’s pain and suffering. The mood calmed by the characters comforting one another, and they slowly begin leaving the pub with some kind of understanding on loss and deliverance.

The Weir took me to a lot of places emotionally. The ebb and flow of the energy of the characters stories kept you excited, laughing and crying. Allyson West deftly helped with the crying bit. It was also tons of fun too to be able to grab a pint from the very bar the actors were using before and after the show. If you have never been to the Irish Heritage Center, create an excuse to get there. It was a great venue to experience a contemporary Irish play.