Review: The Beauty Queen of Leenane

The Beauty Queen of Leenane

The Beauty Queen of Leenane - Credit: Archant

Back in 2010, Martin McDonagh's bitter Irish comedy was a hit for the Young Vic. It deserves the same fate here.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane

Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

A first night at the Sewell Barn is always an exciting event. But such was the buzz about director Michelle Montague's new production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, that the theatre was full to the brim.

Back in 2010, Martin McDonagh's bitter Irish comedy was a hit for the Young Vic. It deserves the same fate here. His work brutally dissects the relationship between an ailing mother and her daughter – unfolding characters who are brilliantly observed and touchingly flawed.


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In a play full of lethal pokers and mistimed letters, it would be easy to stray into melodrama. But the balance is kept just right, not least thanks to Gillian Tichborne's performance as the mother. Her vulnerability is touching – and makes the appalling wiles employed to imprison her child an inevitable consequence of her fears and loneliness.

Mandy Kiley shows equally fine judgement as the daughter. You can tell from the first that there is a tension in this character that is about to explode, but it is never over-stated.

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Design by Jonathan Adkins and Mike Carson creates an impressively detailed picture of a rural Irish kitchen.

Good stuff.

t The Beauty Queen of Leenane continues at Sewell Barn Theatre, Constitution Hill, Norwich, April 15-19, 7.30pm, £9 (£7 cons), 01603 628319, www.sewellbarn.org.uk

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