The violent tone and sick humor of Martin McDonagh's The Lonesome West may have proved a hard sell to typical Broadway audiences (this despite McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane nearly winning a best play Tony the year before), but now Sacramento, CA, audiences are getting to see for themselves whether the playwright went too far in his tale of familial nastiness.
There's sibling rivalry in The Price, sibling lunacy in True West, and even one brother murdering another in The Lion King, but the two wretched protagonists of The Lonesome West make the rest look like Care Bears by comparison. Petty, pathetic Valene and the psychotic Coleman battle each other throughout, despite the intervention of a well-meaning but hapless priest, and a pure-hearted but dirty-minded local girl.
The Lonesome West finishes up its west coast premiere April 9, at the B Street Theatre. The production, featuring Allen McKelvey and Kurt Johnson as the dueling sibs, had one preview, Feb. 26, and opened Feb. 27. Buck Busfield directs the show, which also stars Michael Janes and Dana Friedman.
In New York, The Lonesome West opened April 27, 1999 to mixed to positive reviews. It fared badly at the box office and closed June 13, after 9 previews and 55 regular performances.
Two other McDonagh plays have thus far made the trip across the Atlantic: The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Cripple of Inishmaan. Leenane debuted at NYC's Atlantic Theater Company in early 1998 and quickly transferred to Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre. Nominated for a best play Tony (Art won), the show did capture several acting Tonys and a win for Irish director Hynes. She had already staged Lonesome West in London back in 1997 with her Druid Theatre Company. As for Inishmaan, that show opened with less success in spring 1998 at the Public Theatre. Like Leenane, Inishmaan has been making the regional theatre rounds. Lonesome West is part of the playwright's "Leenane" trilogy, which also includes A Skull in Connemara. Tickets are $13.50-$19.50. The B Street Theatre is located at 2711 B Street in Sacramento. For more information, call (916) 443-5300.
Next up at B Street will be the dark comedy Something in the Air by Richard Dresser, previewing April 15 and opening April 16 for a run through May 28.
-- By David Lefkowitz