The Altrincham Garrick is a lovely, well-kept theatre just outside Altrincham town centre, therefore it was a shame to not even seen it half full on the opening night of their latest production; ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’.
Written by Martin McDonagh (probably most famous for writing the Oscar nominated; In Bruges), The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a story that mainly focuses on a mother / daughter relationship. Here we see the story of Mag (Sonia Dykstra) and Maureen (Tracy Burns). McDonagh perfectly captures the essences of these characters and unravels them at a steady pace. There is a constant battle between the pair to win the power of the household, which leaves them at loggerheads for most of the play.
Loneliness is definitely a theme that most people can relate to. However, the extent that Mag goes to, to avoid being alone is cruel. Dykstra gives a solid performance as Mag.
The only thing that let her down was the accent - every now and then she would revert back to RP, which is definitely not the accent you would hear in the west of Ireland. The comic way in which Dykstra portrays Mag wasn’t perfect, however it did mean that the climax was completely unexpected.
Burns had some nice moments as Maureen. Although her accent was much better than Dykstra’s, there were times I didn’t quite believe she understood what she was saying. The west of Ireland is the most rural part of the country, where it's not uncommon to hear the locals speaking in Gaelic. Therefore, when they converse in English a lot of what they say is directly translated from Gaelic, and doesn’t always necessarily mean the same thing. Perhaps a bit more research would have helped. Burns does bring it back towards the end of the play, the moment with the poker standing out as a highlight. It was also nice how she made the audience feel sorry for her in the beginning, but that shifts during the climax.
I have to take my hat off to Barry Purves, the Set Designer. The set for this production was one of the best I have seen. The detail that has gone into it is just superb, it looks like an old-fashioned Irish home.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane continues at the Altrincham Garrick until 21st May.
Reviewer: Francis McKevitt
Reviewed: 17th May 2016