Wry, witty, satirical, polemic, savagely funny… you name it. Martin McDonagh captures western Ireland with more truth than a Brian Friel play and with more laughs per minute than Father Ted. In this armchair visit to the tiny Irish backwater of Leenane, a place where even its priest realises he’d “have to kill half his [sic] feckin’ relations to fit in”, is the dysfunctional, blackly comic story of suicides, murders and alcoholism, and this is just among the parishioners. 

 

At the heart of the play is the pettiness of the Conor brother’s squabbling, which is brought to unprecedented and unconstrained heights by Ed Hancock as Valene and Jonny Steer as Coleman. The only emotional attachment these brothers have made is to booze, religious paraphernalia (figurines of saints and the Virgin Mary) and expensive cookers. Nothing can touch the two, which is where the essence of its success lies. So when they return from the funeral of their friend; the self-effacing priest, who incidentally committed suicide due to his despair over the brother’s unCatholic ways, they reflect for merely a second before the vol-a-vonts (stolen from his funeral of course) are hurtled across the stage in anger over an argument about Coleman cutting the ears off Valene’s beloved childhood dog. This farce is delivered so ruthlessly by Ed Hancock’s Bernard Black-esque Irish misanthrope that you will feel like converting to Catholicism just for the fun of the guilt.

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