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A Skull in Connemara

Presented by the Roundabout Theatre Company at the Gramercy Theatre, 127 E. 23 St., NYC, Feb. 22-May 6.

Skulls both dead and living are bashed, copious amounts of alcohol are consumed, and everyone's favorite word is "feck" (substitute one letter and you get the idea). Where else would we be but in Martin McDonagh's Leenane, the remote Irish village we first encountered in the author's award-winning "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" and then again in "The Lonesome West." McDonagh completes his trilogy set in the bloodthirsty hamlet with "A Skull in Connemara," currently receiving its New York premiere from the Roundabout Theatre Company in a production previously staged at Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre.

As in the two earlier works, extreme boredom drives the citizens to acts of bizarre violence. In "Beauty Queen" and, to a lesser extent, in "West," we identified with these misfits because McDonagh didn't just revel in their macabre antics, but also gave voice to their pain and loneliness. In "Skull," however, there is little more than graveyard goofiness. He just doesn't dig deep enough.

There is plenty of onstage digging with Mick Dowd (Kevin Tighe) indulging in his annual job of exhuming corpses from the crowded cemetery to make room for the newly departed. But this time, he's called upon to unearth the remains of his own wife, whom he may or may not have killed. Tighe almost saves the show with his understated performance. He doesn't condescend to his character.

Unfortunately, Christopher Carley and Christopher Evan Welch do. Carley is the witless juvenile delinquent with a fondness for cooking hamsters who aids Mick in his labors, and Welch is his elder brother, a dim bulb of a low-ranking policeman. Both play their characters for laughs. Zoaunne LeRoy doesn't push as much, scoring more points as their sanctimonious grandmother.

Director Gordon Edelstein fails to balance the outrageous comedy with pathos. We do laugh a lot, but we could have gotten much more under the skin covering these melancholy skulls. Kudos to David Gallo's inventive set with its upside-down graves over the audience's heads.

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