The Lonesome West Review

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The SHSU Theatre Department’s production of Martin McDonagh’s play “The Lonesome West” directed by Professor Kevin Crouch is not a show that can be easily categorized and definitely cannot be easily forgotten.

 

The story about two brothers who live together in their father’s house after his “accidental” death, who constantly struggle and fail over and over again to have any kind of peaceful relationship, sounds like a sad story up front, no doubt.

 

Coupled with a failing priest crippled with sadness and self-doubt who has seemingly dedicated his life to finding a way to get the brothers to love each other, and is also failing at that, you’ve got yourself a full on tragedy. Or so it seems. However, that isn’t the whole story.

 

“The Lonesome West” is in actuality a hilarious comedy with some seriously depressing undertones. Audiences will find themselves feeling the pain of the characters’ realities, but rather resorting to a reaction of laughing rather than crying.

 

The two middle-aged brothers Valene and Coleman have a tumultuously dramatic relationship that is always keeping you on the edge of your seat unsure of what will happen next. It is typical for a scene to start out in a slow manner with a simple conversation but in a matter of seconds, could turn into a violent brawl with the brothers wrestling each other on the ground and doing serious structural damage to their home.

 

Senior musical theatre major Nick Cuellar plays Valene convincingly as a solemn man who walks with a limp and has a few obsessive compulsive tendencies with his constant need to label everything that is his with his initial as well as his odd obsession with his numerous figurines of the Virgin Mary.

 

Cuellar gives a fantastic performance adopting perfect consistency throughout the show with his very specific mannerisms and quirks.

Junior musical theatre major Joe Daniels plays the brother Coleman as a sarcastic and tough man who enjoys taunting his brother relentlessly but also seems to resent the fact that Valene is the bread winner of the family and has a claim to almost everything in their house.

 

Daniels gives a riveting performance inhabiting the character of Coleman flawlessly as he gives an extremely convincing performance as a man who is determined to act like he is unfazed by everything but is also hiding his own fears and resentments.

 

The other two characters in the show, Father Welsh and Girleen, add to the show’s colorful and bizarre world bringing in even more comic relief as well as several heartfelt moments.

 

Senior theatre major Swayde McGaughey tackles yet another complex role with Father Welsh, a priest who takes his position in the church seriously but can’t seem to stop drinking and has several moments where he fails to maintain his composure and is pushed over the edge.

 

McGaughey gives a spectacular performance as the somewhat mentally unstable priest giving moments of true heartbreak as well as a good number of laughs and one of the most shocking moments in the play.

 

Junior musical theatre major Maggie Ellison plays Girleen, a neighborhood girl who makes her money by selling her father’s pilfered Poteen (an Irish drink resembling vodka), and pops in and out of scenes brining humor and an utter sweetness to this dirty and dark world that these three men are living in.

 

Ellison does an amazing job of portraying this complicated character as Girleen is clearly young, but in no way is she portrayed as naïve. She seems to have a deep and great wisdom about her and Ellison gives a captivating portrayal of her emotions.

 

Professor Kevin Crouch directs another beautiful production that will leave audiences in awe, not only of the indescribable story, but also of the talents of his gifted cast and crew.

 

Held in the Showcase Theater of the UTC, the audience will feel like they are right there on the set with the cast as the clutter of Valene and Coleman’s home stretches to every corner of the stage.

 

Impressive effects are used in the show that will catch the audience off guard and only add to the crazy and suspenseful tale that they will not be able to take their eyes off of.

 

Irish accents are used, and even though they are thick and authentic sounding, the cast does a great job making all conversations understandable.

 

“The Lonesome West” is a unique production that will leave audiences feeling a huge array of different emotions that they may not be sure what to do with. However one thing they are sure to be certain of is that it is a phenomenal production.

 

“The Lonesome West” opens tonight at 8 p.m. in the Showcase Theater of the UTC with additional performances scheduled for October 29, 30 and 31 all beginning at 8 p.m. with house opening at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a matinee performance on October 31 at 2 p.m. with house opening at 1:30 p.m. To purchase tickets call the UTC box office at 936-294-1339.