Review : The Beauty Queen of Leenane, or should we rather say, the Beauty Production in Sandton!


This 1996 dramatic play by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, was literally mind blowing.  This production was the best piece we have ever seen during our years of reviews, and it scores a Galore SA highest ever of 99.7%.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is the debut production from the How Now Brown Cow Productions stable, spearheaded by Daniel Galloway.

Multi-award winner Charmaine Weir-Smith (The Train Driver) directs a stellar cast starring Jennifer Steyn (Recipes for Love and Murder, The Inconvenience Of Wings) as Mag, Julie-Anne McDowell (The Revlon Girl, Couplet) as Maureen, Bryan Hiles (Sweeney Todd, Cabaret) as Pato and Sven Ruygrok (Spud, Abraham Lincoln) as Ray.

The production is designed by multiple award-winning designers Greg King (set) and Denis Hutchinson (lighting).

Some reviews call this a dark comic tale, we tend to disagree.  This play is an extremely vivid expression of issues that happens in the real world.  Although there were small little giggling episodes, we were on the edge of our seats, cringing at times, wishing we could just run into that kitchen and help the poor old mom and sometimes we just wanted to give her a light shake to ask her, “What are you doing !!!”  A real turmoil of emotions from all different angles.

The acting was superb.  It felt as if we were literally in the kitchen, and in each character, there was a part you want to strangle and a part which you just wish you could hug.

The set was surreal, with a kettle boiling, rain outside and drops against the windows, real coffee / tea in the cups, really eating oats, wasting sunflower oil and just so much more.

The intense emotions awoken inside of me during a specific scene in the play (not to give away any spoilers) and this has emotionally scarred me. I’ve never went home after a watching a drama piece on stage, and then dreamt about it.  This was the impact this had on me.

It also focused for me a lot on mental health.  I do see a lot of mental health issues in this play, and at the end of the day, these issues caused the whole plot to turn around and come to the conclusion. 

This production receives the honorary Galore SA entry into our GaloreSA – The Highly Recommendable and Ultimate Experiences List!  This list is exclusively for the best of the best.

Link Below:

“Surreal, intense, filled with emotions…Thrilling! Moving performances by all the actors in this ‘horrific’ melodrama. The best piece we have ever seen during all our years of reviews.” – Galore SA

The debut Johannesburg season of The Beauty Queen of Leenane will run at Theatre on the Square in Sandton from 4 -29 October 2022. Tickets are now available via the theatre’s website or by calling the box office on 011 883 8606 or 083 377 4969. Bookings can also be made on Computicket or by dialling the call centre on 011 340 8000.

Pictures Credit : Brett Rubin

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