Martin McDonagh's play has gone on to enormous success since its 1996 première in Galway. It had long runs in New York and in London, garnering a slew of awards and rave reviews for playwright and performers. In a bleak and depressing Connemara cottage, Maureen Folan, the unfortunate daughter who,unlike her sisters, wasn't allowed to escape, looks after her manipulative, demanding mother, Mag. The drudgery and slog of daily life is interrupted by a visit from the Dooley bothers. Ray, the irresponsible, soap watching, wastrel and Pato, the elder brother, disenchanted with his life as a labourer on English building sites but not really at home in Leenane either. We are lulled into thinking that there is a chance that Pato might rescue the fragile Maureen from her awful existence but McDonagh takes us down a very different and enormously disturbing path.

Cara Kelly is superb as Maureen and so too is Nora Connelly as her mother, delivering some of the best comic lines but not allowing the humour to shield us entirely from the malevolent monster that is Mag. Dylan Kennedy and John Kazek are fine as the brothers who increasingly encroach on the insular lives of mother and daughter and are the catalyst for the tragedy that enfolds.

We may not connect with the more grand guignol aspects of the play but the themes of family tension, missed opportunities, unfilled potential and desire for something better has enormous resonance. While paying a debt to other great Irish writers, McDonagh has created a language for the characters that is entirely own, which both enhances the humour and illuminates the Leenane he wants us to see. The Irish Tourist Board site for Leenane, the gateway to Connemara, waxes lyrical about a film made and music the village inspired but it does not mention McDonagh's play. Funny that, is it not?

An ultimately tragic play,beautifully performed, effectively directed by Tony Cownie, McDonagh brilliantly blends black humour and melodrama taking some unexpected twists, leaving the audience laughing, moved and repulsed in equal measures.

- Keith Paterson