Martin McDonagh is a genius. There, I said it. The Lonesome west is so outrageously funny, yet full of wit, insights and good characters that I’m still in awe. Add to that an excellent production & cast, and thats basically what the production of The Lonesome West was at the Downstairs theater last night.
The Lonesome West follows the tale of two brothers, Valentine and Coleman, from the day of their fathers funeral, after being killed in a shotgun accident. They drink, curse, and hate each other. the local priest, Father Welsh, is an alcoholic, joins them and tries to mend their relationship. On top of this, Girleen, the local moonshine delivery girl, a high school girl who loves flaunting her sexuality, toys with all three. Someone else in the town dies, and this causes a crisis of faith in the priest, along with more fighting between the two brothers. I’m not going to write much more about the plot here, save to say that it’s surprising, twists, and part of the laughter comes from the surprise. If you want to know the plot, check out the Wikipedia article.
The production in Sydney is excellent- Toby Schmitz and Travis Cotton as the brothers are both vastly different personalities, and yet so obviously brothers. Their hate against each other comes naturally, and their delivery of the comedy is spot on; Ryan Johnson as the priest is great as a man who’s in constant doubt, which is what he is supposed to be. Girleen, though a small character, is played by Sibylla Budd very deftly, twisting the men on stage to her will. All four interact well on the stage, let each other control the dialogue without stealing it. Toby Schmitz particularly impressed me, because I just saw him in Ruben Guthrie a few months ago, playing a completely different, youthful, weak character. the stage is minimal, letting the actors work. Notably, a large cross with a shotgun forms the centerpiece of the home of the two brothers.
I could go into an analysis of the play, but I won’t. Lots of thoughts based on religious education come into my head, particularly the stories of the love between two brothers that forms the legend of Mount Moriah, but I don’t want to talk this one to death. It’s an excellent play, really well put on. The Downstairs theater is tiny too, so you are up close with the actors. Worth every penny. I hope that they put this production, with this cast, on again at a larger venue. They deserve it.