The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh

February 17 – March 5, 2017

Mainstage Production directed by Ann Marie Pereth

A black comedy set in a small country village in Connemara, county Galway, Ireland, The Beauty Queen of Leenane depicts the decades-old struggle for power and independence between a 40-year-old spinster and her wry, devious, 70-year-old mother, for whom she acts as caregiver. This suspenseful, compelling and surprisingly funny drama builds with unrelenting tension towards an unforgettable and inevitable climax.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane features Darren Weller, Joan Mullaney, Mike Rasmussen and Mindy Woodhead and is directed by A Public Fit co-founder Ann Marie Pereth. As always, immediately following the performance A Public Fit will continue the conversation with The Buzzz, a moderated discussion of the play’s themes, style and impressions. The Buzzz is an expression of A Public Fit’s on-going commitment to audience engagement, treating each production as the start of an unending conversation.

Director’s Note (from the program)

Let’s talk about toast. Yes, toast.

Ten years ago, I rented a room from two women – a 50 year-old daughter and her hard-headed, domineering, 90 year-old mother. Their large house was not too big to keep me from getting swept up in their day-to-day quarrels, petty bickerings, and explosive outbursts. They circled each other like prize-fighters; they studied each other’s soft spots like surgeons; they attacked, parried, and riposted with the lightning reflexes of Olympic fencers. The most violent argument I’d ever seen in my life, before or since, erupted after an accusation was made that the morning’s bread was not properly burnt enough and could hardly be considered “toast.”

It was fascinating.

Because I knew it wasn’t about the toast. Or the unmade bed. Or the misplaced hairbrush. This 50 year-old daughter had spent the vast majority of her life under her mother’s roof and thumb; this 90 year-old mother had spent the vast majority of her adulthood resenting the missed opportunities in her life made manifest by her own daughter. These two women hated each other with a fierce love that I find impossible to describe.

But Martin McDonagh describes it perfectly. He knows that even the slightest struggles for power have more to do with co-dependence and the paralyzing fear of abandonment. He knows that lumpy Complan and cold porridge are sometimes the only outlet one has to express sublimated rage and frustrated captivity. He knows that sometimes, after so many seasons trapped under the same roof, when mothers and daughters live together in their winter years, they turn on each other like sworn enemies.

Meet Mag and Maureen. And remember: it’s not about the toast. It’s never about the toast.

AMP, February 2017