Ugly old Mag is the antithesis of all the beauty Maureen wants to feel. Some time after Pato returns to England he writes with the news that he's landed a job in Boston; would Maureen like to come too? Sure she would. But Pato sends the letter to his sullen and feckless brother with specific instructions to deliver it to Maureen "in her hand," and the brother -- well, the brother, let's just say, tries his best.
From there the play moves through several intense revelations; it has a perfect and devastating arc. A few scenes end flatly, two others are forced, but as a whole it's an example of playwriting talent coming full-fledged out of the egg. The Berkeley Rep gives the work a respectful, no-bullshit production, too. Michelle Morain plays Maureen with seamless conviction, raving at and chiding her mom in an unfaltering brogue; and Angela Paton plays Mag with impeccable comic timing, making the old woman both human and bottomlessly cruel. Jeffrey King also hits a nice stride as Pato, though his accent fades in and out.
Robichaux, Ross in Spring Storm: God's cruelty to the unbeautiful.
By Tennessee Williams. Directed by Lee Sankowich. Starring Allison McDonell, Jamie Gannon, Stacy Ross, and Richard Robichaux. At Marin Theater Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, through Dec. 12. Call 388-5208.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
By Martin McDonagh. Directed by Richard Seyd. Starring Angela Paton, Michelle Morain, Jeffrey King, and Brandon Karrer. At the Berkeley Repertory Theater, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, through Jan. 7. Call (510) 845-4700
There's no question that McDonagh will have a major career. I suppose he already does. Of course, he may be good only for writing sharp neat scripts and playing an angry young man; whether he'll survive to transform movies or theater, like Williams, is still an open question. But The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a clean accomplishment, and it sings a skirling dirge.