The Lonesome West

The region of Connemara in western Ireland is a God forsaken place, literally. Even Father Welsh, the local soulkeeper, admits "God has no jurisdiction in this town." And try as he might to reform the Connor brothers, Coleman and Valene, and their hooch supplier, the comely Girleen Kelleher, it's a losing battle—in fact, it drives the poor churchman to drink and beyond.

In the Denver Center Theatre Company's production of Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West, directed by Anthony Powell, the sacred and the profane live side-by-side, eliciting reverence and horror with certain regularity and delightfully comic effect. Just how the playwright, director, and talented crew get away with such mockery is a tribute to gifted writing, consistently strong choices, and perfect casting.

Steven Cole Hughes, as the pallid Father Welsh, equivocates with theological panache, righteously moralizing to the lawless brothers one moment, while helping himself to their potato mash the next. Morgan Hallett is enigmatic as the fetching Girleen, vulgar and daunting around the brothers, while reserved in her longing for the oblivious priest.

Bill Christ and Mark Rubald, large men both, fill the theatre with the out-of-control personalities of Coleman and Valene. Despite his massive frame and combative manner, Christ's Coleman deftly turns on a dime, assuming a convincingly penitent façade whenever he's in need of his brother's supply of moonshine. Rubald's Valene is playful, yet obsessive, collecting all manner of religion icons, which he covetously labels with his initial from a thick black marker. Whether wrestling on the floor, or wrestling with forgiveness, Christ and Rubald's chemistry is a delight.

Despite McDonagh's often hyperbolic depravity and the absence of a substantive catharsis, the playwright's gift for language and comedy, coupled with the perfect execution of Powell's team, make The Lonesome West an entertaining and thoughtful experience. It runs through November 23rd. 303-893-4100.

Bob Bows


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