The stage of the Pewter Plough Playhouse becomes a pub in the rural Irish countryside in The Weir, where four people gather and tell ghostly tales but end up revealing the personal stories that haunt them.
The play by Conor McPherson is a rich mix of storytelling, humor and pathos.
Director Sandy Bosworth has inspired her cast to take the gripping play and run with it. As the actors tackle long monologues and Irish brogues, it is a challenge well met.
Young Brendan tidies up the bar as he waits for his regulars to come in out of a windy storm.
Jack, who owns a local garage, bustles in first, and he and Brendan make good-natured small talk.
Their conversation, with gossip and local news, sets the sense of the place in which the characters are rooted, a sense that becomes important as the play develops. They are anticipating the arrival of Finbar, a married man who has sold a house to Valerie, whom he is bringing to the pub to get acquainted with some of her neighbors.
When they blow in, the conversation morphs into telling Valerie stories of apparently supernatural events in her new neighborhood. The stories, populated with ghosts and fairies, are fun for the audience, not because they are unique, but just because they are good stories told by compelling storytellers.
When Valerie goes to the restroom, the men express concern that they have frightened her and vow to change the subject. But actually, they have given her the courage to tell her own supernatural story a tragic one and to feel validated in her belief in it.
Rick Bruce, otherwise known as Cambrias Village Wizard, is just right as Jack. He masters the accent throughout, and with appropriate body language creates a memorable, and in the end sympathetic character as he unfolds his own story about love, loss and what might have been.
Blake Spiller, who has played a number of roles at the Plough, also enjoys maintaining the Irish brogue of the young barman as he embellishes his spooky story with proper drama.
Jerry Praver is good as Finbar, who enjoys Valeries company and tells her the ghostly tales of his neighbors.
Sharyn Young, who co-starred in the Pewter Ploughs previous show, The Odd Couple, is touching as she cries real tears and stuns the men with the tragic explanation of why she has sought solace in the quiet countryside.
The Irish flavor of the play has been emphasized in this production, from the set to the accents to the colorful language. (The F word is a favorite adjective.)
So what is the Weir of the title?
Its a sort of dam used to raise the level of a river or a stream, and there is a new one in the village.
The weir supposedly blocked the fairies path to the sea, and caused them to act up with the humans.
But the title can also be seen as a metaphor for the structure of the play. In the beginning the stories flow benignly for the first act, with no serious consequences, but in the second act, pent-up emotion overflows as Valerie and Jack reveal their true life-changing events.
Through Nov. 3. 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. Pewter Plough Playhouse, 824 Main St., Cambria. $18 to $20. 927-3877, www.pewterploughplayhouse.org.