Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

The Weir and wonderful

The Weir

The Nonentities,

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


THE mild October weather has changed just in time for The Nonentities cold and windy production of Connor McPherson's The Weir

Set on a similar night in Rural Ireland a group of middle aged men gather in a country inn and swop tales of ghoulish happenings with a pretty young woman who has rented an old house in the area.

The drinks start to flow and so do the stories and as the evening wears on, the inhibitions and rivalries are worn down, until Valerie's story moves beyond the local folklore into her reality.

With just about sixty seats , the small studio at The Rose was a wonderfully intimate and cosy setting to hear what was often referred to as ` a load of cod', a euphemism no doubt  for codswallop. The old pub set was practically in the round and the cast did a wonderful job of containing the action and atmosphere in a glass box like setting. 

You cannot hide in a small studio like this and the audience's proximity to the players' enables an intimate examination of the individual performances. Jack the local garage owner, played brilliantly by Ross Workman, begins the evening's monologues with a simple tale of fairies and bumps in the night. Workman created a totally believable portrait of a lonely bachelor haunted by his own personal demons that of lost love and regret.

Finbar (Stephen Fletcher) is next up with a ghostly tale of happenings strong enough to cure his smoking habit 18 years ago, a fix that a lot of smokers would like to hear more about I am sure.  Then Jim (Patrick Bentley) pipes up with a twisted grave digger's tale that seemed strangely current given some of the recent news headlines.


Finally Valerie (Sinead Maffei) stopped just short of tears as she related her own experience with an intensity that seemed like a personal account rather than a scripted one. Additional praise must be given to her professionalism too as an audience member had an uncontrollable coughing fit during her tale, an affliction that is hard to ignore in such a small room, but never once putting Sinead off or out of character.

All of this is watched over by Brendan the bar owner played nicely by Trevor Bailey, connecting each slot with a selection of quips and a supply of real beverages, a small feat of prop management in itself.

The Weir is one of those plays that you could easily get bored with as you know everyone's going to have a story once it's underway and in truth you have probably heard some more chilling than those served up here amongst the drinks. However Richard Taylor's direction keeps the light and shade peaking at just the right moment and the actors deliver every line with a focused realism.

The Nonentities have pulled off a splendid version of this play and without a prompt or performance stumble from the outset; a pro team would have been challenged to do it this well.

My only gripe came with the compact seating in the small studio space which in some positions, including mine, required a constant leaning to the left and right to see in between the gaps in the row in front.

So my advice to you is, as the seating is non-allocated and the action is continuous then, go before you go and sit in the front row. To 13-10-12

Jeff Grant 

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