Preview: The Beauty Queen of Leenane

Black comedy opens at Langham Court Theatre, Thursday, Nov. 17

Director Judy Treloar has gone from 16th century Elizabethan England (Elizabeth Rex) to mid-’90s Irish black comedy in Langham Court Theatre’s latest production, The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

“It’s a huge departure from the last play I directed here,” says Treloar.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane centres on Maureen Folan, a 40-year-old virgin, and her manipulative 70-year-old mother, Mag. Maureen, who has a history of mental illness, is trapped in a small, bleak cottage and in an overly dependent, seriously dysfunctional relationship with her mother, whose interference in her daughter’s only chance at love sets the stage for deceptions, secrets and betrayal.

Beauty Queen stars Elizabeth Whitmarsh as Meg, a stubborn lump of self-pity; Naomi Simpson as Maureen, the desperate virgin; Bill Adams (Adams is also the set designer), as Pato, the awkward suitor; and newcomer Paul Wiebe as Ray, Pato’s fidgety, frustrated younger brother.

The cast went through extensive training because there is some physical violence in the play.

“It was by far our biggest challenge to portray the violence while making sure no one got hurt,” says Treloar.

“There’s an incredible sadness about this story that’s really affected us all, we cry and we laugh we hope that’s what the audience is going to do.”

The Beauty Queen of Leenane opens Thursday, Nov. 17 and runs until Saturday, Dec. 3.