“The Weir” is a Haunting Play Rooted in Irish Folklore

By DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, March 13, 2019 News & Announcements, Presenting Series

[About a 5 MIN read]

Irish Theatre of Chicago (ITC) closes its debut season on the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s Presenting Series with The Weir. Guests are invited to enter the action of the play each night at a pre-show cash bar serving the three drinks—Guiness, Harp, and white wine—poured throughout the play. Thursday night features a post-performance talk moderated by Susan Cannon Harris, professor of English, University of Notre Dame.

Dating to 1997, The Weir is Conor McPherson’s first ensemble play anchored by five long stories narrated by four close-knit local men and the new woman in town, a transplant from Dublin. In their attempt to make Valerie (Maura Lisabeth Malloy) feel at home, locals Finbar (Dan Waller, Mojo Mickybo), Brendan (Matthew Isler), Jack (Brad Armacost) and young Jim (Jeff Christian) settle around the bar and peat fire in Brendan’s tiny back-of-the-house pub spinning mostly local and personal yarns about spooks, hauntings, and fairies. Each tale is progressively darker and more shattering than the last, revealing that each in the room is grappling as much with life’s tragedies and opportunities lost this night as making an attempt to initiate the newcomer as an insider to their tiny rural community.

Old and new tensions ebb and flow among friends like the pours from the bar over the course of the blustery night. And while happiness seems to hover just beyond human perception like the mystical beings that inhabit each character’s defining story, at night’s end friends and a community are ultimately stronger.

Voted one of the 100 most significant plays of the 20th century, The Weir won then 26-year-old playwright Conor McPherson the Olivier Award for Best New Play, and has gone on to become a beloved staple in the Irish theater canon for its rich blends of humor and pathos, humanity and mystery, and loss and love.

ITC first presented The Weir in 2010 in a smash production that extended twice and earned Brad Armacost a Jeff Awards Nomination for Actor in a Principal Role. Under the direction of Notre Dame Film, Television, and Theatre’s Siiri Scott, The Weir was remounted in 2017 with almost all of the original cast returning and resulting in a sold-out three-month run. The company is delighted to bring The Weir team together once more to share this beloved show with the Notre Dame community.