Monthly Archive for: ‘May, 2013’

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE needs closed-caption super titles.


Beth Wilmurt (Maureen Folan) and Rod Gnapp (Pato Dooley) in Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane, directed by Mark Jackson, at Marin Theatre Company in Mill Valley, now through June 16. Phtos by Kevin Berne

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE: Drama by Martin McDonagh and Directed by Mark Jackson. Marin Theatre Company (MTC), 97 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941. (415) 388-5208 or May 23 – June 16, 2013

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE needs closed-caption super titles.

Irish plays are notoriously talkative and so it is with Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane. It is the first of his multi-award-winning “Leenane Trilogy” that includes A Skull in Connemara and, The Lonesome West taking place in the imaginary village of Leenane in Connemara, County Galaway. Leenane has “been described as not as a place to live, but a place to leave.”

McDonagh in his imaginary village has created a claustrophobic setting with the action taking place in a single room kitchen where the title character Maureen (Beth Wilmurt) is living with her demanding and controlling 70 year old mother Mag (Joy Carlin). The 40 year old Maureen has become Mag’s caretaker when the two other sisters ‘escaped’ by marrying and raising families.  Middle-aged construction worker Pato Dooley (Rod Gnapp) living in London re-visits Leenane and after a night of drinking is brought home and bedded by Maureen. As the first act ends there is the spark of romance and one last hope for Maureen to a live a life of her own.

The possibility for the two lonely souls of Maureen and Pato to bond continues in act two with a bitter-sweet monolog by Pato that Gnapp nails with pathos and sincerity. He puts those words into a letter that his brother Ray Dooley (Joseph Salazar) is to deliver only to Maureen. Not to bright Ray is conned by Mag into leaving the letter with her and after she reads the letter burns it. This sets up a chain of horrendous events that have become trade marks of McDonough’s plays.

Mark Jackson is noted for his physically inventive direction but this play becomes more of a fantasy rather than a cruel slice of life written into the text. His last turn at the Aurora Theatre for The Arsonists was stunning. He totally misses the mark for Beauty Queen and may have been undone by a platform set (Nina Ball) mounted in the center of the total stage with flat panels stretching from stage  floor to the ceiling used to project atmospheric lighting (York Kennedy). The music selections (Matt Stines) also leave something to be desired.

Then we return to the dialect coaching (Lynne Soffer). Joseph Salazar’s Irish brogue and speed of delivery makes his speeches almost completely

Joy Carlin as Mag Folan

unintelligible and the production crew would be wise to use closed caption super titles while he is on stage. Beth Wilmurt in the lead role is hesitant in the early scenes but becomes very professional as the story unfolds. What make the play worth a visit are the performances of theatre Bay Area legend Joy Carlin with her multilayered performance and the control of the stage by Rod Gnapp when he makes in entrances. Running time about 2 hours including an intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of

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