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The Weatherman by Eugene O’Hare at Park Theatre | Review

Niamh James & Mark Hadfield in The Weatherman at Park Theatre. Photo by Piers Foley
Niamh James & Mark Hadfield in The Weatherman at Park Theatre. Photo by Piers Foley.

Eugene O’Hare’s new black comedy The Weatherman explores modern-day child trafficking at a time that couldn’t be more relevant, with figures hitting record highs in recent years. With past scandals still fresh in our memories, O’Hare wants us to see the savagely cruel system created by these criminals.

When working-class Londoners Beezer (Mark Hadfield) and O’Rourke (Alec Newman) are asked to look after a ‘package’, their unscrupulous landlord Dollar (David Schaal) leaves Romanian child Mara (Niamh James) in their flat. Throughout the play we see how two mostly moral men cope with this ultimate dilemma – stay quiet and get rewarded, or save the girl and risk everything.

Newman gives an astounding performance as broken man O’Rourke, especially in the climax of the second act. His desperation to save Mara really can be felt, yet the audience is left constantly unsure of his ability to do anything. Hadfield provides much needed comic relief in the piece, doing what he does best and delivers the laughs of the night – no easy feat among such subject matter.

However, the most remarkable performance of the night belongs to Niamh James, who flawlessly captures the innocence and fear of Romanian child victim Mara. Despite not uttering a single word throughout the play, she gives us all the information we need to know through her perfect use of terrified looks and empty eyes. Until I read James’ biography, I was genuinely convinced I was watching a child actor. In reality, James has recently graduated from drama school. Cyril Nri plays divisive fixer Turkey, a terrifying character who the audience really isn’t sure of. He plays this fine line well, leaving his motives constantly at risk.

The only performance I was not sold on was that of Dollar, played by David Schaal. The cliché style lines he has to work with left more to be desired, and the intimidation of his villain didn’t quite reach the mark.

This play will be divisive, and many will be left uncomfortable. Director Alice Hamilton makes no secret that the play “doesn’t claim to offer a solution to the problem”, and a true story arc of Mara is never achieved. Despite being called The Weatherman, the title character has little significance in the plot at all, and maybe that’s the point. Human trafficking rings have proven to be robust and brutal machines, and is not something a broke working man from a London flat can solve.

3 Star Review

Review by Nathan Williamson

Beezer and O’Rourke live on the fringes of society in a dingy London flat, struggling to make ends meet. Despite living life at the bottom of the heap, the savage banter of their dysfunctional friendship keeps the pair afloat.

When their dodgy landlord, Dollar, makes them a ‘business’ proposition, O’Rourke finds himself selling out for the cost of a few months’ rent. The price? Take care of a mystery special package. Just for a few months. Easy job. Easy money.

As the weight of a heavy conscience becomes too much to bear, the outlook for tomorrow becomes increasingly dark, with a storm brewing on the horizon.

O’Hare’s first black comedy-drama in our 2019 season shines a light on complicity and its intriguing web of secrets and lies woven behind closed doors.

Park Theatre in association with Anthology Theatre, Eilene Davidson Productions and Featuristic Stage present World Premiere of
The Weatherman
By Eugene O’Hare

Directed by Alice Hamilton
Cast features Mark Hadfield, Niamh James, Alec Newman, Cyril Nri & David Schaal
Production supported by Park Theatre’s Producers’ Circle
Running Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Booking Period: 15 August – 14 September 2019

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