Between Mother and Daughter Irish Drama Packs Punch in Gift Theater Production
Vitello, Barbara, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Barbara Vitello Daily Herald Critic at Large
"The Beauty Queen of Leenane"
* * * * out of four
Location: Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Times: 8 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays through July 29
Running time: About two hours, including intermission
Parking: Metered parking available
Tickets: $15, $20, $25
Box office: (773) 283-7071 or www.thegifttheatre.org
Rating: Violence, sexual references, adult language, for older teens and adults
Unflinching, unsettling and unforgettable describes Anglo-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's brilliantly bleak and arrestingly ambiguous "The Beauty Queen of Leenane."
Impeccable describes Gift Theatre's production, thanks to Sheldon Patinkin's insightful, subtle direction and exquisite acting from 25-year Chicago veteran Mary Ann Thebus, in top form here. The accomplished cast is rounded out by Gift ensemble members Lynda Newton and John Gawlik and newcomer Brian Deneen.
Affecting moments appear in the margins, when they appear at all in this tragicomedy underscored by cruel humor, barely suppressed violence and an overarching sense of disappointment.
The nimbly plotted domestic drama concerns the riveting and ravaging relationship between aging mother Mag (Thebus) and her caretaker daughter Maureen (Newton). Discontented and mutually dependent, these longtime combatants are trapped in a dingy, depressed West Ireland cottage devoid of grace and compassion (convincingly re-created by set designer John Zuiker).
The long-simmering feud between demanding, manipulative septuagenarian Mag and her partner in spite, the embittered, middle-aged virgin Maureen will undoubtedly boil over. …