McPherson's Weir Scoops Best New PlayDate: 16 February 1999
The winner of the final category in the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards - Best New Play - was announced last night with the televised broadcast of the ceremony on BBC2. Though the National Theatre production of Michael Frayn's Copenhagen was a strong favourite, the honour went in the end to Conor McPherson's tale of Irish ghost stories The Weir at the Royal Court.
The Weir picked up a second Olivier last Friday when actor Brendan Coyle won Best Supporting Performance for his role as the friendly barman in the rural Irish pub where the play takes place. The award for Best New Play was given in a surprise presentation following a performance of the play at the Royal Court Downstairs (at the Duke of York's Theatre) over the weekend. Director Ian Rickson and the current cast accepted the Olivier on behalf of McPherson.
This is the third run for The Weir at the Royal Court - it was originally commissioned for the Royal Court Upstairs - and its first commercial run, having started an open-ended engagement in October 1998. This year, the play will also transfer to Broadway and a separate production will embark on a regional tour of the UK.
The Weir focuses on a group of local bachelors who gather in their local pub one afternoon and compete to charm Valerie, a pretty young newcomer from Dublin. The discussion round the bar wends its way through friendly jibes, local history lessons and bashful flirtations before turning spooky, as each recalls their favourite ghost stories.