Credit: Emily Schwartz

Martin McDonagh’s characters are never likable. They are almost always awful, cruel, violent, weak, hate-filled people, poisoned by self-loathing, trapped in a fallen world they make worse simply by being there. Yet they are fascinating too.

In The Lonesome West, part of the Connemara trilogy (along with The Beauty Queen of Leenane and A Skull in Connemara), he gives us two lonely bachelor brothers who despise each other and spend their days torturing each other but for economic and psychological reasons can’t live without each other.

That is McDonagh’s gift as a writer, to deliver up characters we should despise but instead are fascinated by, especially when they’re played by actors of the caliber of those in AstonRep’s revival, currently running at Raven Theatre. Dylan Todd and Robert Tobin clearly relish playing the brothers; at every moment you can see a crazy glint in their eyes as they play off each other, indulging in an array of childish micro- and macro- aggressions.

McDonagh’s play is not perfect. His dialogue is sometimes repetitious (intentionally so, but still it gets tedious). And after a while it’s hard not to be weighed down by the bleak world he creates onstage. But this play also contains moments of sublime wit and power, especially in the hands of a director like Dana Anderson and her fine cast.   v