West End Players Guild closes out its 110th season with Martin McDonagh’s The Lonesome West, a four-time Tony Award nominee on Broadway (including Best Play of 1999).  The show opens Friday, April 29 and runs through Sunday, May 8 in the theatre at the Union Avenue Christian Church in the Central West End.  

Set in Leenane, County Galway, in western Ireland, this darkest of dark comedies offers multiple murders and suicides, periodic drunken rages and fistfights, a couple of knife attacks, random acts of sacrilege and oodles of despair.  Like the two other plays in McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy, it would be a rather sad story if it wasn’t so outrageously funny. 

The story revolves around brothers Valene and Coleman Connor who, as the play begins, have just buried their father, recently deceased as the result of a shooting accident.  Valene and Coleman are a middle-aged and embittered pair.  They have nowhere to go in their lives and are in no hurry to get there.  Neither brother is especially saddened by the death of their father.  Each seems animated instead by his all-consuming hatred of the other.  They spend their days and nights brawling over the most trivial and mundane of slights, both real and imagined, much to the dismay of their parish priest, Father Welsh.  Welsh fears (not unreasonably) that the brothers are headed for a violent end, and is on a mission to salvage their relationship at any cost.

Robert Ashton directs the WEPG production which features Jason Meyers as Coleman Connor, Jeff Kargus as Valene Connor, Ted Drury as Father Welsh and Hannah Geisz as Girleen Kelleher, a flirtatious teenager who makes a living selling her family’s poteen (Irish potato moonshine) door-to-door.  The Connors are among her most frequent top-volume customers. 

WEPG will present The Lonesome West in seven performances at 8 p.m. Thursday (second week only), Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, April 29-May 8.  Tickets for all performances are now on sale at www.WestEndPlayers.org/tickets.

West End Players Guild this season employs touchless ticketing, socially-distanced seating and indoor masking of all patrons and front-of-house staff and volunteers.  For full details on our public health policies, please visit www.WestEndPlayers.org/covid-19-policies/.

Mark Abels photos

Okay, let’s try this one again.  The Lost Year is ending and the season that never happened is gone for good, but now our darkened theatre is getting ready to light up once again.  Plan to join us in September for opening night of our 110th season of Big Theatre in a Small Space, with another exciting schedule of plays never or rarely seen in St. Louis.  

            September 17-26, 2021:  What if you could go back in time and change the one moment that reshaped your life forever?  What if you could see a lost love of 40 years ago just one more time, to learn how her life turned out?  Would you?  Steven Dietz’s Bloomsday, a bittersweet tale of love won and lost on the Emerald Isle, poses the questions.  The answers are for you to discover.  Jessa Knust makes her WEPG directing debut.   

            December 10-19, 2021:  Shirley Lauro’s A Piece of My Heart is, according to one reviewer, “six women telling a story you are not sure you want to hear.”  Four young military nurses, a Red Cross worker and a USO singer fly off to the Vietnam war, full of hope and driven by their desire to serve.  But the life they live there breaks their hearts and, for some, their lives.  Yes, it’s a story you may not want to hear, but it’s also one you’ll never forget.  Dani Mann directs.

            February 11-20, 2022:  In an alternate universe much like our own, in a budget motel room in a snowy part of the country called New Hampshire, the first woman to make a serious run at a major party’s presidential nomination is teetering on the brink of elimination from a race that hasn’t even really started yet; and her husband, himself an ex-president, isn’t helping much.  The play is Hillary and Clinton, Lucas Hnath’s take on what might have happened in that motel room.  Is Hnath’s tale history or fantasy?  We can’t say for sure, but we can promise a show that is smart, funny and full of characters you just might recognize.  Tim Naegelin directs his first WEPG production. 

            April 29-May 8, 2022:  We end our season where it began – in Ireland.  But Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s The Lonesome West is no warm-hearted Irish love story.  This dark, dark comedy is the tale of Coleman and Valene, two brothers who can barely keep from killing each other.  McDonagh makes you laugh and laugh at things that really shouldn’t be laughed about.  But go ahead and laugh out loud.  We won’t tell.  Robert Ashton returns to WEPG to direct.   

            Season tickets for the upcoming season go on sale in July online at WestEndPlayers.org/tickets. Individual show tickets will go on sale in August.  All shows are at the theatre in the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Boulevard in the Central West End.  Watch for further announcements and check for more information, including public health protocols to be observed at the performances (when they are finalized), at WestEndPlayers.org

Actors, take note:  Auditions for A Piece of My Heart, Hillary and Clinton and The Lonesome West will be held July 17 (Bloomsday, originally scheduled to be presented in April, 2020, has already been cast).  More information and audition sides will be posted at WestEndPlayers.org/auditions in June. 

“Silent Sky” Photo by John Lamb

            West End Players Guild is the region’s oldest continuously-operated theatre company, presenting “big theatre in a small space” since 1911.