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19
Thu, Apr

(l to r) Kate Fry and Wendy Robie

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The Beauty Queen of Leenane, By Martin McDonagh

Reviewed by Frank West

Northlight Theatre's production of this play shows the power and intimacy of theatre. First performed in 1996, it has become a fundamental part of an English language list of plays.

Theatre makes it possible to see ourselves and our humanity more clearly. And this is theatre at its best.

There is much humor throughout the play. It has dark humor, and the audience loved it. About the play's humor, the Theatre of Martin McDonagh says; "Laughter is a form of catharsis," a relieving of emotions.

Quoting the press release: "The Beauty Queen of Leenane is the first play in the trilogy set in Leenane, a small village on the West coast of Ireland where McDonagh spent his holidays as a child."

In Leenane, "forty year old spinster, Maureen Folan, lives with her manipulative aging mother, Mag, stuck in a care taking relationship that has them both seething with resentment.

When a romantic encounter finally sparks Maureen's hopes for an escape from her dreary existence, Mag's interference sets in motion a chain of events as tragically funny as it is terrifying.

Footlights says: McDonagh's "Leenane has been described not as a place to live, but a place to leave. In its depressed economy and isolated location, the inhabitants of Leenane live in a state of tense boredom. His characters argue over their preference for one kind of biscuit (cookie) or a particular brand of crisps," (potato chips).

About hopefulness, McDonagh says: "I think of my play and I see that it's a devastating and sad picture. But there are pockets of hope, more hope than would have been before the play was written."

The play is an example of what can happen to a person who doesn't have a goal or a vision of what they can be.

Congratulations to director B.J. Jones for a Marvelous production. The casting is superb, and he brought out excellent performances from the actors.

Chicago audiences are fortunate to have an opportunity to see a major production of this powerful and humorous play.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is at Northlight Theatre now through April 22.
9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie.
Wednesdays 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sundays 2:30 and 7 p.m.
Tickets $30 to $81
8470673-6300
www,Northlight.org

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