The Lonesome West, Theatre Review. Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10

Cast: Keiran Cunningham, Alan Devally, Paul Duckworth, Anne O’ Riordan.

To find peace, one must be content, one must realise that life is not about taking potshots at their neighbour, not to be quick to condemn or to take revenge, one must be true to one’s own actions, one must allow a certain kind of love to flourish in the heart for even the most despicable of actions, lest they revel in their own loneliness.

Martin McDonagh’s The Lonesome West is a production that cradles that ethos but then turns into the negative, the mirror image of a warring couple turned grotesque, two brothers whose constant jibing and spitefulness is the antipathies of human interaction and the need for validation in life, for Valene and Coleman Connor, the only release to their lives is continue to wind each other up.

Mr. Duckworth, as Valene Connor, as ever performed with consummate style, taking on both the harsh sentiment at the root of Martin McDonagh’s play and the ability to create such a memorable interpretation of the character with absolute ease. It is testament to the Liverpool actor that he is able, no matter the situation, to give a rousing, definitive presentation, an ideal which wasn’t thought of, no matter the situation he finds himself in.

Aided by the superb Keiran Cunningham as his brother Coleman, the spiralling effect of close quarters living within communities and the secrets they can hold, allow to fester, may seem like the oddest behaviour to the outside world, but in the confines, the restrictive cause of loneliness become clear. To fight someone constantly in the family is obviously not healthy, but if it is the only contact that two people have, the only love that might be seen under the surface, can manifest itself out of control and be seen as a functioning relationship, abusive, terrible and vicious, but nonetheless family.

With Alan Devally and Anne O’ Riordan giving the stage to the two imposing personalities with their own definitive take on the loneliness that prevails in some, arguably abandoned, societies and communities in certain parts of the far west coast line of Ireland, Robert Farquar’s wonderfully directed play captured both the need for company but the terrible sense of isolation that can be felt, no matter where there is the need for one up man ship and control.

The Lonesome West is supremely dark throughout, the claustrophobia imagined as two brothers, not close in their lives, have to continue to share their daily bitter aspects with one another and in a similar vein to the highly prized Steptoe and Son by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, the undercurrent of hatred and despise is a joy to watch.

The Lonesome West is a deeply satisfying play which explores the relationships and motives of two men who can’t live with each other but who also revel in the squabble that is their life, without anyone else to watch over them, they are not lonesome but they are abandoned by greater powers of humanity.

Ian D. Hall