Set in rural Western Ireland, The Lonesome West features a pair of troublesome brothers named Coleman (Cameron Forbes) and Valene (Roman Marshall). Breaking out in fights for irrelevant reasons (whose bag of crisps is it anyway?!) and trying to outcompete each other even in their apologies, the brothers never failed to draw laughter from the audience with their over-the-top exchanges. Meanwhile their priest, Father Welsh (Caleb Barron), struggles with depression and alcoholism – all he wants is for the brothers to get along, but God knows that peace is difficult to come by when they’re at each others’ throats every five minutes. And rounding out the cast is Girleen (Lara Deering), who brings a welcome female perspective to the play. Despite some slip-ups in the accent here and there, the cast put in a solid effort and were thoroughly entertaining.
One of my favourite parts about this play was the interplay between the Burton Taylor set and the storyline. In the small house previously owned by Coleman and Valene’s late father, various pieces of furniture – notably, a stove – are marked in tape with the letter ‘V’ for Valene, underscoring the conflict between the brothers who can’t share any aspects of their lives. On top of the set design, I found it extremely admirable that lighting and sound alone were enough to communicate a crucial change in setting and time from the interior of their house at midday to a gurgling lake in the middle of the night.
I also really enjoyed that The Lonesome West had multiple layers – a comedy, above all, but with serious moments regarding religion and death to ground the acting. Though the pace was slow at first, the performance flowed well once I was able to understand the full back-story. I came to appreciate the seemingly random pieces of information dotted throughout the play much more when they were woven back in to create serious plot twists towards the end of the show. In its exploration of the complex dynamics between two siblings (or, perhaps more so, rivals), Practically Peter Productions’ The Lonesome West was hilarious, compelling, and fun to watch.