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'The Lonesome West' is richly dark comedy indeed

Girleen (Katlyn Skaggs) breaks up a fight between Valene and Coleman (Rick Lockett, left, and Michael Relland) in “The Lonesome West” playing at Carpenter Square Theatre through  June 2. [Image provided]

Girleen (Katlyn Skaggs) breaks up a fight between Valene and Coleman (Rick Lockett, left, and Michael Relland) in “The Lonesome West” playing at Carpenter Square Theatre through  June 2. [Image provided]

Carpenter Square Theatre has put together a solid and affecting production of “The Lonesome West,” one of the Leenane trilogy of plays by Martin McDonagh. Strong performances, excellent direction, and skillfully constructed technical elements all dovetail to bring to life this deeply Irish and oddly comic and disturbing story.

British-Irish playwright and filmmaker McDonagh has written many darkly humorous psychological thrillers about the west of Ireland. Although raised in London, McDonagh has found a comically disturbing and seriously laughable pulse of social dysfunction in the western edges of Connemara. “The Lonesome West,” which opened in Galway, Ireland, in 1997 and on Broadway two years later, explores a deeply interconnected and sociopathic pair of brothers.

Coleman and Valene, the Connor brothers, live at the same time — it cannot be said that they live "together" — in their family cottage in the small town of Leenane. Their father has recently died, within the recent past there have been two murders and a suicide locally, and Valene's dog was tortured to death within the past two years.

Carpenter Square's production, directed with a light touch by artistic director Rhonda Clark, benefits from a very well trained and gifted ensemble cast. Leading off as Coleman, Michael Relland gave a dynamic performance as the perpetually inebriated and utterly misanthropic older brother Coleman. His chronically inquisitive and disinterested stare made the character at times laughable and at times grimly creepy.

Rick Lockett portrayed Valene, the feisty younger brother, as a sharply bitter and briskly manipulative personality. Valene, also a heavy drinker, has an addiction to collecting statues of saints and annoying his brother. Even after a lifetime of pranks played on one another, Lockett's Valene projected an almost naïve cynicism about the depth of response he inspires from Coleman.

Matthew Moreillon delivered parish priest Father Welsh, who is a over-burdened with a sense of responsibility. Moreillon performed a deftly complicated personality; his Father Welsh was a man who understands the underlying depression of the people born from years of rural poverty, while believing he is called by God to “fix” his parish, even as he acknowledges his own irreparable nature.

Katlyn Skaggs was Girleen, the schoolgirl who delivers hooch from her father's still as a way of making a little extra money. Well acquainted with the brothers, who are among her best customers, she is also carrying “a fancy” for Father Welsh. Skaggs performed a strong and vulnerable Girleen, who gave as good as she got and had no problem calling out the evils she saw.

Clark's direction makes excellent use of the space, which was created by Ben Hall's beautifully constructed set. A gold star is awarded for the Irish diction work, well done by all of the cast.

— Anna Holloway, for The Oklahoman


What: "The Lonesome West" 

Where: Carpenter Square Theatre,  808 W. Main Street

When: 7:30 p.m. May 24 and 31; 8 p.m. May 25-26 and June 1-2; 2 p.m. May 27. 

Info: or 232-6500.

Anna Holloway

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