AISLE SAY San Francisco


By Conor McPherson
Presented by San Jose Repertory Theatre
Directed by Rick Lombardo
San Jose Repertory Theatre
101 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose, CA / (408) 367-7255

Reviewed by Judy Richter

It's a blustery night as old pals gather in a pub in a small Irish village in the mid-1990s. Only the unease of the whistling wind foretells what's to happen that evening. Thus begins Conor McPherson's "The Weir," presented by San Jose Repertory Theatre.

The first to arrive is the white-haired, bearded Jack (Robert Sicular), a regular patron who helps himself to a drink and puts his money in the cash register. He's then joined by the amiable young host, Brendan (Alex Moggridge), soon followed by shy Jim (Mark Anderson Phillips). The three men begin drinking and gossiping, with their focus on a local landowner who has been seen driving a young Dublin woman who's going to live in a house that's believed to be haunted. Soon the landowner, Finbar (Andy Murray), arrives with his client, Valerie (Zillah Glory), to give her a chance to meet some of the locals.

Although Finbar is married, the other three men are single, and one can sense their longing reaction to the presence of an attractive woman. Then the stories begin, with Jack, Jim and Finbar each narrating ghostly tales. Valerie tops them with her own spine-chilling experience. Even later, after most of the others have left, Jack tells Valerie his sad story of love lost.

Artistic director Rick Lombardo not only directs, inserting some telling stage business, but also is responsible for the sound design, which includes Irish music before and after the intermissionless play. At times the pace seems slow, and the stories lose some of their eerieness on the theater's large stage with its set by Annie Smart, who also designed the costumes. Perhaps Dawn Chiang's lighting could have set a more ghostly mood.

At any rate, the acting ensemble is solid, making for a mostly entertaining evening.

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