DC Theatre Scene: The Lonesome West

The name of the play being given such a spirited production at Keegan Theatre is The Lonesome West, but McDonagh’s Leenane seems to be located somewhere between the fifth and sixth circles of Dante’s Inferno, and the brothers Connor make Cain and Abel look like they came out of “the Brady Bunch.” …  Coleman (Matthew J. Keenan) is a greasy-haired dirtball prone to fits of manic violence on little provocation. The venal Valene (Bradley Foster Smith) is a miser who has obtained (through a shocking stratagem) ownership and tenuous control of the entire household.

The Lonesome West is at bottom a character study, and Keenan and Smith create two characters so delicious in their detestability that you will be a long time forgetting them.

… Keenan is wonderfully explosive and unpredictable as Coleman; to talk to him, you will think, must be like petting a pit bull. And Smith’s Valene is a marvel: self-involved and self-congratulatory at every turn, he is a human sneer.

We normally seek protagonists for whom we have a rooting interest, but the Coleman and Valeen that Keenan and Smith put on stage are wholly without redeeming virtue, and we watch them, as we watch certain Tracy Letts characters and candidates for public office, in order to see what imaginative affront to human decency they will do next. In this production, they do not disappoint.

…Keegan’s production provides its own momentum. You may grow terrified of these people, but you will not grow tired of them.