The Lantern Theater Company, located in St. Stephen’s Church, 10th and Ludlow Streets, is presenting its much awaited completion of Mike McDonagh’s trilogy with The Beauty Queen of Leanne. The Beauty Queen… is actually McDonough’s first produced play, but it is the final play in the trilogy produced for the eagerly awaiting Lantern audiences. Due to popular demand, the play has been extended through February 10. Those who have been privileged to see The Lonesome West and A Skull in Connemara as I have, might be fascinated to uncover the similarities among the three
McDonagh’s characters are a pathetic lot; yet we can identify with their plight and see the humor in their situations. The two brothers, Vilene and Column in The Lonesome West torment each other unmercifully as do the mother and daughter in The Beauty Queen of Leanne. The objects of contention are so ridiculous - (from potato chips to lumps in the Complain) that the audience howls. Yet all three plays are not only comedies but tragedies as well. Mick, the central persona in A skull in Connemara, is a complex character who can readily charm and leaves an unwitting audience unprepared for a surge of plot twists. Likewise, Maureen, played by Megan Bellwoar in The Beauty Queen of Leanne, is a frustrated spinster whose liberation points the way to plot twists that leave the audience reeling.
If you have never seen any other part of Mike McDonagh’s trilogy, do not let that deter you from seeing this masterpiece. It is a Tony-Award winning satire of mother and daughter relationships that certainly blazes with intensity on its own merit. See it to witness the evil machinations and deceptions of the helpless mother Mag Folan played by Mary Martello. Observe the many faceted Mary Marcello with a new stoned-faced persona. Sit on the edge of your seats while waiting to note who has the “last word.” You don’t need to book a flight to Ireland, but you do need to call the Lantern box office at 215-829-0395 or visit online at lanterntheater.org. before tickets to this stroke of genius are sold out.