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Review: McDonough's 'Lonesome West' is riotous entertainment

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Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011

Note: Illness has forced cancellation of the final performances of "Lonesome West," a production of the Rep, Point Park University's professional theater company.

The production had been scheduled to play through Sunday in the studio theater of the Pittsburgh Playhouse in Oakland.

Those holding tickets should contact the Playhouse box office at 412-392-8000 to arrange a refund or tickets to a future Rep show.

The Irish town of Leenane is a great place to visit. But it's a bit of a challenge to live there.

People have a way of dying there, in ways that are as horrifying as they are humorous.

"The Lonesome West," playwright Martin McDonagh's third play in the Leenane Trilogy, revisits the town in which he set "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" and "A Skull in Connemara" with yet another tale of people who are as impulsive, violent and alarmingly funny.

It's being performed through Feb. 27 by The Rep, Point Park University's professional theater company in the intimate studio-theater space.

McDonagh focuses "The Lonesome West" on Valene and Coleman Connor, a pair of warring middle-aged brothers who share a cottage recently vacated by their father, who died from a gunshot wound that may not have been accidental.

The brothers, like most of the residents, are the despair of the town's ineffectual priest, Father Welsh, who is at a loss at how to deal with the brothers' ongoing war with each other or the teenaged Girleen's open peddling of poteen -- Ireland's bootleg liquor.

Not McDonagh's best play, its interest is more in the well-drawn characters and their behavior than in forward motion or sub-textual meaning.

Nevertheless, McDonagh's outrageous, foul-mouthed, argumentative, physically assertive characters and the abundant humor they generate provide an entertaining 90-minute visit that's almost certainly not sponsored by the greater Galway tourist board.

Philip Winters and David Cabot bring specific, contrasting personalities to Coleman and Valene. Winters' Coleman uses his character's passivity and deception as ample defenses against Cabot's prissy, assertive advances. Their mutual antagonisms erupt periodically and destructively.

Director Kim Martin and fight director Randy Kovitz keep the action urgent, insistent and physical. But Martin creates some nice introspective, quiet moments in a second-act interchange between Dave Droxler's Father Welsh and Maggie Ryan's assertive but vulnerable Girleen.

Lindsey B. Mayer creates a workable, realistic Irish cottage that provides lots of room for grappling, fisticuffs and destruction that's supported by FX artist Steve Tolin's creative efforts. Dialogue coach Sheila McKenna worked with the cast to create accents that sound authentic while being almost always understandable.

Additional Information:

'The Lonesome West'

Produced by: The REP

When: Through Feb. 27 with performances at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays

Admission: $24-$27

Where: Point Park University's Pittsburgh Playhouse, Oakland

Details: 412-392-8000 or website




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