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Review: The Weatherman, at Park Theatre 200

Superb monologues in Eugene O'Hare's debut play

29 August, 2019 — By Lucy Popescu

Niamh James and Mark Hadfield [Photo: Piers Foley]

HUMAN trafficking and sex slavery are brutal realities in the UK. Eugene O’Hare attempts to tackle these troubling subjects in his debut play.

A leaflet with useful contacts is included in the programme and on our seats.

The Weatherman showcases some terrific writing and Alice Hamilton’s atmospheric production crackles with energy and Pinteresque menace. O’Rourke (Alec Newman) and Beezer (Mark Hadfield), are middle-aged bachelors living together in a dingy London flat and stewing in past disappointments.

Like a nightmarish version of The Likely Lads, they are two men whose life has passed by. O’Hare has written superb monologues for his male characters.

However, the poor Romanian child, 12-year-old Mara (Niamh James), who their shady landlord, Dollar (David Schaal), deposits into their safekeeping, in return for six months’ free rent and a weekly allowance, is left mute. It swiftly becomes clear that Mara is suffering unimaginable distress as a sex slave.

But she is effectively silenced by the men, who can’t speak her language, and by O’Hare who, inexplicably, denies her a voice.

Even Dollar’s henchman, Turkey (Cyril Nri), is given a back story. O’Rourke eventually comes to his senses and recognises the full horror of the situation and what he has signed up to.

But it is too late for him to save Mara (and perhaps himself). Beezer, the titular weatherman, (a failed meteorologist), appears too soaked in alcohol to offer any hope of redemption.

There are some brilliant scenes between the men and O’Hare is clearly a writer to watch – it’s no surprise to learn that he is also an actor.

Nevertheless, his play would have benefited from a sharper focus on what it purports to be about – the shocking demand for and fate of trafficked girls in this country.

UNTIL SEPTEMBER 14

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