If you’ve spent any serious time (or not so serious time) with pals at a corner bar you know that the more booze or whiskey consumed, the taller the tales. If that bar happens to be in Ireland you can count on the tales being spooky. In Conor McPherson’s The Weir, produced many times in Europe and in the U.S. since it was written in 1997, the bar is a rural Irish pub run by a good-natured innkeeper named Brendan. One dark, windy night, there’s drinking and storytelling aplenty in his place: from salty philosopher Jack, who runs a garage; from sad-sack handyman Jim; from smug businessman Finbar, and from Finbar’s companion, a lovely young newbie to the neighborhood named Valerie.
Atmosphere is as much front and center as the plot in New Village Arts’ affectionate interpretation of The Weir. It’s directed by Kristianne Kurner on a cozy pub set by Kelly Kissinger that practically begs you to hop right onto it, the better to order a Guinness and join the conversation. Some of that conversation’s a might difficult to understand early on, so thick are the Irish brogues (especially Ron Choularton’s, who plays Jack). But once all the characters are on stage (Max Macke’s Brendan, Tom Deak’s Jim, Tom Stephenson’s Finbar, Samantha Ginn’s Valerie), the ghost stories begin and the uneasiness ramps up. If you’ve read or seen The Weir, you know that Valerie’s true-to-life story ends up out-horrifying any of the others’ colorful tales, which may be born of imagination and drink as much as fact.
There’s an uneven pace to this lengthy one-act play, with the camaraderie-filled first 30 minutes not nearly as engrossing as what follows. Watching the barflies go through beer and whiskey as if it were Doomsday’s Eve seems more important than what they’re actually saying. But this elegantly appointed production’s cast is an estimable one, with Ginn and Choularton proving genuinely sympathetic (you’ll be hard pressed to keep a stiff upper lip when Valerie tells her story), and the others are pro’s pros from start to finish. By curtain, The Weir isn’t really a ghost story at all, but one of flesh and blood, and shelter from the storms inside us.
The Weir runs through Nov. 1 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. $32-$35. newvillagearts.org
Beauty and the Beast: A children’s production of the Disney Broadway musical about a young woman who falls in love with a grouchy, good-onthe-inside prince who just happens to look like a stooped lion-man. It opens for four performances Oct. 22 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. broadwayvista.biz
Mud, River, Stone: A staged reading of Lynn Nottage’s dramedy about an African-American couple who are taken hostage by a bellhop while vacationing in Africa. Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it happens Oct. 26 at the Encinitas Library Community Room. intrepidtheatre.org
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: A full cast reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s original novella about an ambitious doctor with a double personality. Presented by Write Out Loud, it happens Oct. 26 at the Old Town Theatre. writeoutloudsd.com
Healing Wars : A multisensory production that blends dance, spoken word and multimedia in order to explore how soldiers cope with the physical and emotional wounds of war. Presented as the centerpiece production of the upcoming Without Walls Festival, it runs through Oct. 25 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
In Your Arms : A world premiere “dance-theater musical” created by a who’s who of Tony and Pulitzer winning Broadway vets. Directed by Christopher Gattelli, it runs through Oct. 25 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Full Gallop : Broadway vet Mercedes Ruehl plays a fashion editor scornfully plotting a comeback after being fired from Vogue magazine. It runs through Oct. 25 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
My Mañana Comes : The bond between four busboys at a swanky New York restaurant is tested after a shocking incident. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it runs through Oct. 25 at the Lyceum Theatre in the Gaslamp. sdrep.org
Orange Julius : The world premiere play from Basil Kreimendahl tells the story of a dying Vietnam vet trying to reconnect with his lesbian daughter. It runs through Oct. 25 at the MOXIE Theatre in the College Area. moxietheatre.com
The Glass Menagerie : Tennessee Williams’ classic play about a Southern family whose lives change forever when a gentleman caller comes to, well, call. It runs through Oct. 31 at the Onstage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.info
Mary Poppins : The popular musical about a singing, dancing nanny who changes the lives of two children in ‘30s London. Based on the popular Disney movie and presented by J*Company Youth Theatre, it runs through Nov. 1 at the David and Dorothea Garfield Theatre in La Jolla.
The Weir : Set in a pub in Ireland, Conor McPherson’s acclaimed play centers on the arrival of a woman to the typically male-heavy bar and the spooky stories the patrons try to tell her. It runs through Nov. 1 at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
Hay Fever : Noël Coward’s classic comedy about a retired stage actress, her writer husband, their eccentric children, and a weekend get-together gone awry. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Nov. 8 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Stage Fright : A film critic is drugged and kidnapped, only to wake up and find the actors he’s disparaged in the past are extracting their revenge. Written by Charles Marowitz, it runs through Nov. 8 at Lamplighter’s Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com
The Vortex : Noël Coward’s scandalous comedy about an aging socialite and her son who are forced to confront some hard truths about themselves when their respective lovers leave them. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Nov. 8 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Chapatti : The West Coast premiere of the comedy about two Irish animal-lovers who cross paths and start to remember the importance of human companionship. Directed by Tony Award-winner Judith Ivey, it runs through Nov. 15 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org