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With a handful of exceptions, every important company in the U.S. has canceled or rescheduled its shows through the end of 2020 and hopes to reopen at some point in the first half of 2021. And what will they do until then? A fast-growing number of companies say they’ll fill in the gap with webcasts, though few have described their plans in any detail. To date, the webcasts I’ve reviewed in this space were mostly taped prior to the lockdown, but several companies have also streamed newly produced Zoom-based performances and play readings…
Of these, the best was the New York-based Irish Repertory Theatre’s “performance on screen” (as the company billed it) of Brian Friel’s “Molly Sweeney,” a three-character play whose interconnected monologues were ideally suited to the narrow limitations of Zoom. Now the Irish Rep has topped itself with an even more technically ambitious revival of Conor McPherson’s “The Weir,” a five-actor play that the company produced to great acclaim in 2013 and remounted two years later. Despite certain minor failings, it is by far the most impressive socially distanced theater webcast I have seen.
First seen in this country on Broadway in 1999, “The Weir” is, like so many of Mr. McPherson’s plays, an exercise in storytelling. It centers on four ghost stories told by a quartet of Irish drinkers (Dan Butler, Sean Gormley, John Keating and Amanda Quaid) who are forced by a storm to hole up in a village pub (the fifth person, played by Tim Ruddy, is the bartender). The common theme that binds together their homely tales is the loneliness at the heart of the human condition, and each tale is progressively more unsettling—and more believable….
* * *Read the whole thing here.
A featurette about the Irish Rep’s original 2013 stage production of The Weir: