The Cardinal Stage Company has returned to the intimate Rose Firebay of the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center for Martin McDonagh’s wildly comic Irish play of battling brothers, The Lonesome West. McDonagh’s take on the Cain and Abel story revolves around the battling brothers Coleman and Valene Connor.
Cardinal has assembled a varied cast for the show. Coleman is played with a gleeful malice that simply bubbles over by Cardinal veteran Mike Price. His game but hapless saint-crazed brother Valene is played by Kevin Lee Guthridge (incoming artistic director for the Shawnee Theater). Struggling to stand between them is the Phoenix Theatre’s John Michael Goodman as Father Welch. Commenting wryly from the side is the IU Theatre’s Alana Cheshire as Girleen Kelleher in a role that she calls The Lonesome West’s shot of estrogen.
Kudos to set designer Shane Cinal for cleverly incorporating the Firebay’s original brickwork into the Connor’s beat-up living room.
As the energy and the alcohol swirl, the whole crazy fabric of McDonagh’s imaginary town of Leenane is put on view. There’s a daughter who killed her mother with a poker, a grave digger upper who may have used an ax on his wife, and a policeman who for no special reason walks into the sea. The priest says that he never drank until he came to Leenane and we can sympathize.
It’s a dark, vulgar play, but Randy White’s tight direction and the sheer energy of the production keep the humor very much in evidence.