Grab a pint and gather 'round for some haunting tales from the Things Unseen Theatre.
The local theater company is presenting "The Weir" at its venue the Church in the Middle of the Block at 8 p.m. March 14, 15, 21 and 22, and 2 p.m. March 16.
The play, written by Conor McPherson, is based on stories he heard from his grandfather and father in the '60s, '70s and '80s on the west coast of Ireland, said Russell Stiles, Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School English/Drama Department Chair. The play got a short run on Broadway in 1999.
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
James Watt (left) and Rich McGarvey share a drink in the Things Unseen Theatre presentation of “The Weir.”
Haley Hawk, as Valerie, tells her story to (from left) Rich McGarvey (sitting), Rick Gray, James Watt and David Weirick in “The Weir.”
Stiles, who is directing the production, said the storyline takes place in a rural Irish pub and focuses on four men who have swapped stories and shared many a pint over the years - Brendan, the publican; Jack, a car mechanic and garage owner; Jim, Jack's assistant; and Finbar, a businessman - and Valerie, a mysterious woman in her 30s from Dublin who moves into the village.
At the pub, characters start telling "local legends" and "local ghost stories," which are "very, very personal to the person who tells it," Stiles said.
"The play is typically Irish - sad and sweet - and is as much about lack of close relationships and missed connections as it is about anything else," the theater website said.
If you go
What: "The Weir," a play by Conor McPherson
When: 8 p.m. March 14, 15, 21 and 22; and 2 p.m. March 16
Where: The Church in the Middle of the Block, 217 Fifth Ave., Altoona
Tickets: $12, general admission; $10, students and seniors. Tickets will be available at Thompson pharmacies, Aldo's Place and at the door. The play contains adult language.
"The weir of the title is a hydroelectric dam on a nearby waterway that is mentioned only in passing as Finbar describes the local attractions to Valerie. It anticipates and symbolizes the flow of the stories into and around each other."
Valerie also shares a story, which is "very frightening and very, very real to her and to the other lads," Stiles said.
"Without revealing too much of the plot, she has recently suffered a very traumatic experience that has led her to seek quiet and solace in the tiny village where the play is set," Haley Hawk, who plays Valerie, wrote in an email.
"She's very shy and introverted at first, but throughout the course of the evening, as the other characters recount supernatural events that have happened to them, it gives her the courage to tell her own haunting story."
The characters don't have to drink alone either.
The audience will be able to imbibe before, after and during the show's intermission with the sale of Guinness and Harp draft from the functioning stage pub.
"I think the audience will get a charge outta being on stage. It will give them a chance to see what the actors' perspective is," Richard McGarvey, who plays Jack, wrote in an email. "It should give them a feeling of really being there, in the pub with these characters."
The atmosphere they've created gives the feeling of actually sitting in an Irish pub and the audience gets "to be part of a very intimate night," Stiles said.
"The other thing I always feel when I see this play and read this play is, I get a real sense of how we're all connected in some way by our appreciation or our understanding of each other or our willingness to believe each other and believe in each other," Stiles said.
"Valerie at the end says, 'Do you think I'm crazy?' and the four lads go, 'No, no, we don't,' and that's a very common desire, I think we all want to be accepted even if we're talking about some things that are a little bit spooky or a little bit out of the ordinary."
The audience will also get to enjoy traditional Irish music at the production.
"This is such a wonderful and unique show because it's very, very funny at times, but when the actors are telling their stories, it becomes mesmerizing, moving and quite scary," Hawk wrote.
"I hope it makes the audience question the world around them a little bit more. At the very least, the audience will leave having been thoroughly entertained and perhaps even a little afraid of the dark."
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.