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Tales From the Dark Side

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Watching Buffalo Theatre Ensemble's current production, The Weir, is as close as you can get to pulling up a chair in a small-town pub for an evening of drinking and storytelling without actually having a pint in your hand. In Conor McPherson's intimate 1997 play, a young bar owner and three of his middle-aged regulars find their routine pleasantly jarred by the arrival of a young woman, a newcomer to town. The comically attentive men take turns telling fairy tales and ghost stories to impress and gently unnerve her. But when she tells one of her own, they're the ones who come undone. McPherson has been influenced by David Mamet's use of language; his characters' brogues are hard to understand in a few spots, but occasional incoherence seems to be the price of authenticity. Under the direction of Bryan Burke, Bradley Armacost, Jenni Fontana, Christopher Garrett, William Smillie, and Norm Wooell turn in a combination of finely tuned group work and compelling monologues. Costumes and set--a pub where no two chairs match--strike all the right notes; only the lighting, which has the task of focusing attention on each storyteller in turn and then pulling back to the entire group, seems obvious. The Weir continues in the upstairs theater at the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage, 425 Fawell in Glen Ellyn, through March 6. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 2. Tickets range from $23 to $26; call 630-942-4000.

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