It’s no surprise that Martin McDonagh has found a ready audience in this nation of immigrants: if playwrights like Brian Friel drape the Old Country in a nostalgic haze, McDonagh certifies that our ancestors were well advised to get the hell out. “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” presents rural Ireland as a murder ballad come to life, even as it demonstrates the raw power that has rightly made McDonagh the most celebrated playwright of his generation. Investing this tale of a ferocious mother-daughter conflict with both tragic inevitability and a wicked sense of surprise, McDonagh attacks the theater with the same blend of reverence for the medium and cool disregard for convention that Quentin Tarantino brings to filmmaking. This solid production by Actors Workshop centers on the explosive relationship of daughter Maureen (Jacqueline Grandt) and mother Mag (Debra Rodkin). While Rodkin’s monstrous self-pity and impressive fright wig evoke Shelley Winters, Grandt inhabits Maureen’s full range of hurt vulnerability, tenderness and vicious cruelty; I expect she’d make a fascinating Lady Macbeth. Their incendiary relationship clearly outweighs the well-meaning efforts of Bob Wilson’s Peto to spirit Maureen away. The production’s only false note is Ken Still’s minor but pivotal role as Peto’s brother Ray, who comes off as Irish as Arch Hall, Jr. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.