From the moment you enter the theater proper and see the stage you know that the Langhorne Players’ production of BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE is going to be something special.
The set (Set Designer: Ken Junkins, Props Mistress: JoAnne Pinto) itself was beautiful, and actually looked like an older stone home in some farm town in Ireland. Little touches embellished the stage, pictures of the Pope, the Kennedys, a little Irish banner with a prayer on it. The stage was dressed beautifully without looking cluttered or messy. The lighting (Paul Kilsdonk) was simple and efficient.
The actors themselves were a treat in their own right. It is always great to see people be able to speak with accents and still be intelligible. The cast gelled together very well and were all strong choices by the director (Kelly Lake)
Carole Mancini (Mag Folan) was spectacular as the dreadfully dreary mother, Mancini does a fantastic job of being both a forgetful old woman you almost feel bad for, and a harrying hag you want to hate. It’s hard to play both someone so cruel and so overcome with dementia without turning into a parody but Mancini pulled it off beautifully.
Susan Blair (Maureen Folan) really had the gravitas to be the lusty middle aged virgin, who is in every way her mother’s daughter. Blair was wonderful and brave with her choices and was perfect as Maureen. Her accent was intelligible though she did struggle with keeping it up in her most intense scenes. However you never thought of her as anything other than a very damaged woman desperate to be loved.
Frank Halbiger (Ray Dooley) was hilarious as Ray, seeming to be happy in his hilarious choice in wardrobe. I could have watched just a show of Ray interacting with the oft mentioned others in their small town.
Jack Bathke (Pato Dooley) was heart wrenchingly sympathetic as the love interest of Maureen. His monologue was done perfectly with beautiful style and candor. He also had one of the funniest walks of shames I’ve ever seen on stage or screen.
THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE is quite beautifully crafted both in character of the actors as well as the character of the staging itself. No glance went unseen, no heart left uncrushed under the weight of the truth. If you can make the time to go see this wondrous production, make the time, just make sure to leave the kids at home.
THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
by Martin McDonagh
Directed by Kelly Lake
June 6 – 21, 2014
Spring Garden Mill, Tyler State Park
Route 332, 1440 Newtown-Richboro Road
Newtown, PA 18940