When you see Gregg Weiner on stage you don't see Gregg Weiner. You see whomever he's playing. And that there is chops, friends. Chop, chop, chop.
Ground Up and Rising is performing Irish playwright Conor McPherson's “The Good Thief” in the Lab Theater at South Miami-Dade Cultural Center. It is a tough piece, and it's not for any hanky sniffer reaching for the smelling salts. The language is foul, the pictures painted bloody. But it's brutality is leavened by a touch of rose petals and peace. And that's a good thing.
The other good thing is that Gregg Weiner is the Narrator. His Irish thug accent never wavers as, on a bare stage with a table, two chairs, a glass, and bottle of whiskey, he tells of Greta, his ex-girlfriend whose morals would make an alley cat cringe. But he'd take her back. Of course.
He's an enforcer, putting the frighteners on for subsistence, the bottom muscle of the Dublin underworld, and he knows he's a nothing, inadequate and unloved. Drinking his whiskey, smoking his cigarettes, he confesses his latest crime. How his boss, now doing the thoroughly dirty with Greta, sends him to threaten a rival. With a sawed off shot gun under his coat and a pistol in his belt at the back.
He's met with horrific violence. Beatings, gunshots and spraying blood. He kills, but he survives. With his intended victim's wife and young daughter. They flee the house together. From the police, rival gangsters, his own gang. They travel across Ireland, seeking help, and the wife is revealed and the touch of the little girl's hand and breath begin their subtle changes on the man who would kick another to death without thought or remorse.
They find help from an old friend, a place to stay, an almost heaven in the country.
And the play continues.
Despite the blood, the sex, the graphic tales, McPherson has written a quiet piece. His poetry is in the details and from this Weiner makes his man almost likeable, his delivery unemotional, as if telling his terrible tales to friends over a beer or two, his regret and pain never quite revealed.
“The Good Thief ” is McPherson's first produced play, staged in Ireland in 1994. Since then he's gained renown with “The Weir,” “The Seafarer,” “Shining City,” and “Port Authority.”
Ground Up and Rising artistic director Collin Carmouze, has been with the company for ten years, and each piece he's directed has been outstanding. “The Good Thief” is no exception.
If theater is your drug of choice, see this. It's playing in South Miami and then moving to Miami Beach. And, Ground Up and Risings tickets are a steal.
Running through Aug. 20 at the Lab Theater, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211 Street, Miami. 786-573-5300. Tickets are $25 general admission; $20 for seniors, and industry members. Free admission for theatergoers under 25. http://www.groundupandrising.org.
“The Good Thief” then moves to the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, playing August 25, 26, 27. 2000 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach. 305-673-7256 https://www.mbgarden.org/calendar?page=1.