On the Lyric stage a plume of scented turf smoke rises from the chimney of the old fashioned stove in a weather worn public house. Director Conall Morrison - responsible for last year’s masterful production of The Crucible at this venue - takes us to the west of Ireland this time for Synge’s classic tale of murder, love and drinking.
Patrick Moy (Christy Mahon) and Lalor Roddy (Old Mahon) in The Playboy of the Western World at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast Photo: Steffan Hill
Sadly, the two leads of Pegeen Mike, played by Orla Fitzgerald, and Christy Mahon, played by Patrick Moy, aren’t strong enough to support the weight of this play.
Fitzgerald’s Pegeen is shouty and has the habit of emphasising certain words unexpectedly (oddly reminiscent of Chandler in Friends). She doesn’t access the more delicate side of the character which is crucial for this piece’s dramatic ending. It is a shame because she looks every inch the part.
Patrick Moy is guilty too of over enunciating, and loses much of the pathos inherent in the role by making Christy a rather brawny simpleton. Romance between the two never really ignites.
However, Will Irvine, as Shawn Keogh, expertly tackles the challenges of Synge’s wordy creation. He imbues the character with enough piety and cowardice to make him a loveable yet gibbering wreck.
Ultimately though, despite help from a rustic but well imagined set and valiant performances from the supporting cast, this production is unlikely to have audiences rioting any time soon.