Ardal O'Hanlon (Jim), Peter McDonald (Brendan), Dervla Kirwan (Valerie), Risteard Cooper (Finbar) and Brian Cox (Jack) attend the after party for the West End transfer of The Weir at Wyndham's Theatre
Ardal O'Hanlon, Peter McDonald, Dervla Kirwan, Risteard Cooper and Brian Cox
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage
Jessica Raine and Tom Goodman-Hill attend the after party for the West End transfer of The Weir
Jessica Raine and Tom Goodman-Hill
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Josie Rourke's acclaimed revival of Conor McPherson's The Weir has transferred from the Donmar Warehouse to Wyndham's Theatre, where it opened to press last night (Tuesday 21 January). You can read Michael Coveney's review here.

The cast features Ardal O'Hanlon (Jim), Peter McDonald (Brendan), Dervla Kirwan (Valerie), Risteard Cooper (Finbar) and Brian Cox (Jack).

After the show, guests attended the opening night party at the Royal Horseguards Hotel, where WhatsOnStage had the opportunity to catch up with some of the cast and Donmar artistic director, Josie Rourke.

When asked if he thought the production had changed since leaving the Donmar, O'Hanlon said:

"I think it has changed, a little bit, I hope that we've managed to retain what made it special in the first place... Inevitably it becomes a little bit bolder in the West End, and a little bit brasher perhaps. Conor (McPherson) came in and had a bit of a play with it... added a few little things, I think just to freshen it up.

"He's a great writer, I used to read him just for pleasure... the humour is not in-your-face, it's in the relationships and the banter."

Cox echoed his O'Hanlon's praise for McPherson, saying:

"Conor's actually added some stuff and allowed the play to grow. He's such a wonderful playwright because he doesn't hold onto it, he's not precious with his work. He is always bemused by the success of this play."

The two actors were also in agreement on their female co-star, "Dervla manages to find a new way of telling the story each night, same words, same order but a new way of telling it," O'Hanlon gushed.

Cox added: "She has never done that same speech twice, she always brings something new to it, it's quite an achievement."

London Rupert Penry-Jones and wife Dervla Kirwan attend the after party for the West End transfer of The Weir
Rupert Penry-Jones and wife Dervla Kirwan
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Another popular subject in the press room was Emma Thompson's recent comments on gender-blind casting. Kirwan commented: "There's a wealth of fabulous actresses in England, and we know that Maxine Peake is going to play Hamlet this year in Manchester, so yeah why not?"

Director Rourke, who took charge of the Donmar in 2012, was keen to highlight the venue's efforts in this area: "We look for big and strong roles for women... It's not just about balance it's also about the scale of the part and where they get to go in it. This is an amazing role for a major actress in Dervla Kirwan."

On recent events at the Apollo Theatre and theatre safety in general, Rourke commented:

"What happened with Curious Incident was a big shock for everybody... We are very lucky in London that we have these great people in Nica (Burns) and Cameron (Mackintosh) who really care about these West End houses and about preserving them.

"It's important we get behind Nica and these theatre owners and understand what our legacy is in a country where the majority of our West End houses are Victorian or Pre-Victorian."

Have the cast had any of their own supernatural experiences?

Ardal O'Hanlon, who starred in Father Ted and has since developed a successful career as a comedian and stand-up, revealed some spooky stories of his own: "When my daughter was very small, about a year old and she wasn't really speaking. One Saturday morning she was in bed between myself and my wife and there was a knock at the door, at an unearthly hour, seven in the morning or something. We were kind of like 'Who's that at the door?' At that point my daughter piped up, in this dark room, this girl who was barely speaking, said 'It's a lady with a pram', so I jumped out of bed and I looked out of the curtains and there was a lady with a pram! Spooky!"

Other guests present included The Hobbit star Luke Evans, Philomena director Stephen Frears and The Great Gatsby actress Carey Mulligan.

PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM