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THEATER REVIEW: "The Weir"

An Irish bar is a great refuge for the thirsty and the lonely.

Conor McPherson’s “The Weir” takes place in Brendan’s rural Irish bar, where regulars Jack, Jim and Finbar gather daily to consume stout and while away the lonely hours gabbing about playing the ponies and other local gossip. Three of them are men without women, living unexamined lives, emotionally and physically isolated for years in this small town.

Kristianne Kurner directs “The Weir” through Nov. 1 at New Village Arts Theatre.

The big news tonight is the announcement that Dubliner Valerie (Samantha Ginn) has just bought a long-empty house from married local real estate mogul (and bar regular) Finbar (Tom Stephenson). This leads the trio of single bar denizens – Jack (Ron Choularton), Jim (Tom Deak) and Brendan (Max Macke) -- to speculate about what could have brought her to their tiny burg.

Finbar brings her in, and sufficient alcoholic inspiration leads the guys to try to amuse the newcomer with stories about ghosts and fairies that may or may not inhabit her new place.

But the stories get progressively darker as time goes on, and soon Valerie tops them all with the harrowing personal tale that explains her move. This inspires Jack to tell his own sad story of love lost but never forgotten.

Choularton is a consummate storyteller, and it’s this ability and his way of inhabiting Jack’s painful reality that anchor the piece.

Deak’s Jim and Mackey’s Brendan are younger, and though rudderless and unsure what they want, they still seem to harbor some hope for positive change.

Stevenson’s Finbar is the only one to have escaped rural life for marriage and success in the business world, though he too seems to be looking for that elusive something.

Ginn is a fine actress, but didn’t quite have a handle on Valerie’s accent on opening night.

Kudos to Director Kristianne Kurner for leaving the play what it is, a quiet piece with awkward spaces that reveal more than pages of dialogue.

Kelly Kissinger’s set nicely projects the comfortable feel of a village gathering spot, and Mary Larson’s costumes, Bill Bradbury’s sound and Chris Renda’s lighting contribute to the atmosphere as well.

“It’s just people talking,” McPherson has said of his play. And if talk is all they have, well, that at least offers a bit of human connection.

The details

“The Weir” plays through November 1, 2015 at New Village Arts Theatre, 2787 State Street, Carlsbad.

Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (760) 433-3245 or www.newvillagearts.org