Washington City Paper: The Lonesome West

The Irish-focused Keegan Theatre’s sublime new production of The Lonesome West affirms yet again the behavioral insight that makes McDonagh’s casually hard-hearted work so hard to dismiss.

As the endlessly victimized meeker brother Valene, Bradley Foster Smith fully earns our sympathy and pity. Only Matthew Keenan’s Coleman seems to have no earthly source for his spite, though McDonagh and Coleman leave us plenty of space to ponder it.

The songs played over the scene changes help us remember the piece is set in 1993, before Ireland’s mid-’90s economic turnaround. Whether that windfall found its way to Leenane is questionable; whether it did much for Coleman or Valene is dubious. Like Father Welsh’s limp entreaties to them to be kind to one another, it was probably too little, too late.