The Beauty Queen of Leenane - Altrincham Garrick

IRISH eyes definitely aren't smiling in The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Altrincham Garrick's penultimate play of the season.

Poor Maureen finds herself lumbered looking after her aged mother Meg, a demanding control freak desperate for a daughter fearful of being "left on the shelf" not to fly the nest.

As far as stories go this one is as old as the hills but it never fails to capture the imagination. Watching this I found myself willing Maureen to escape the clutches of the old witch, even if Maureen isn't a particularly sympathetic character. That said, maybe Meg is at the root of her daughter's past troubles andhas a case to answer.

Director John Cunningham has drawn out some strong and believable performances from a tight cast and the confrontations between Meg (Sonia Dykstra) and Maureen (Tracy Burns) are memorable and at times highly disturbing. Barry Purves has come up with a set that captures the bleakness of rural Ireland to perfection.

I admire the Garrick for being adventurous enough to stage plays like this one from Martin McDonagh. How frustrating then, to see far too many seats on opening night. Make sure you don't miss this little gem, from the Emerald Isle.

* Until May 21. The box office is on 0161 928 1677. Star rating - ***