Review: The Beauty Queen of Leenane

Firstly, I love rain on stage. The effect of having rain pouring behind the set really captured the blustery Irish climate and it’s just cool to watch!

‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’ was full of quick-witted humour, twists and turns. The mother-daughter relationship between Mag and Maureen felt all too familiar, with Mag complaining of her urine infection among other ailments adding to the irritation and daily strain she puts on her daughter Maureen. The moments of comedy were reminiscent of ‘Mrs Browns Boys’, with silence used creatively to prolong the awkward tension of certain scenes – a raised eyebrow being all that was needed to convey a whole tirade of words. However, at times it lacked a bit of pace. The length of the dialogue meant that it needed to arc a little more in terms of a change in energy or vocal delivery. Ray, played by Laurence Pybus, injected the dynamism that was needed each time he came on and his frustrated interactions with Mag were very funny.  The chemistry between Pato and Maureen was evident and their fumblings were uncomfortably awkward but still sweet at the same time. The descriptive essence of the text, alongside the impressive set and lighting design, formed a clear image in my head of the landscape and texture of certain items. I for one will not be running to try ‘Complan’, it sounded vile and I really got the sense of the lumps floating in it.

Why should audiences be watching this play now? For me, it tells of the estrangement we can feel from leaving home and it not being the glittering success we hoped for. Yet also, the continual static loop of everyday life and how without moving on we can become stuck. Loneliness is key within this play; the isolating nature of the exterior floods into the interior of Mag’s house and the darkness this turns into. This performance was not what I was expecting, which is always a good thing, and I think there are aspects that will really resonate with each new audience that comes to watch.

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