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[03 MAY 00] WARWICK ARTS CENTRE REVIEW
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
- Perfect Execution Of Dark Comedy
REVIEW BY HELEN COTTERILL

The Royal Court Theatre have followed up the success of their last production, The Weir, with another thought-provoking Irish play at Warwick Arts Centre.

Four actors play out Martin McDonagh's black comedy, a story of unrequited love, resentment and frustration, set in the interior of a Connemara cottage, grimly decorated to echo the darkness and desperation of their lives.

A lonely middle-aged spinster, Maureen (Kate Burton), is duty bound to care for her cantankerous mother, Mag.

The mother, played in commanding style by Anna Manahan, is bent on frustrating her daughter's tenuous expectations of happiness, which depend upon an uncertain liaison with an Irish labourer working far away in London.

The parent-sibling tensions have echoes of Ronnie Corbett's 'Sorry!', but on a much darker level. Though there are laugh-out-loud moments, the comedy can only momentarily lighten the underlying sense of brooding violence.

The moral of this cyclical tale, that we have more in common with our parents than we care to imagine, is underlined as the play unfolds and the focus of our sympathy shifts from daughter to mother.

All the actors were flawless in their performance, with particularly deft comic touches from the young Pato Dooley (Peter Gowen). 

The audience are taken through an emotional ride more bumpy than the Giant's Causeway, leaving us feeling sadly empty as we realise that the characters will never be able to resolve their unfulfilled lives.

A thought-provoking, highly-professional production which will amply reward your visit.

ON UNTIL SATURDAY 6 MAY

RUNNING TIME: 2hr 20min

AGE GUIDANCE: 16+

HELEN COTTERILL - 3 MAY 2000
  

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CWN / Arts & Entertainment / Warwick Arts Centre / 3 May 00

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