The Best Of 1998 Theater

1 THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE For the first few minutes, it seems like a typical slice of Irish local color, full of overripe characters and accents you can barely decipher. But Martin McDonough's extraordinary play, about a mother and daughter testing each other's patience in a bleak corner of rural Ireland, gradually displays an imposing arsenal of playwrighting weapons: a well-made plot that keeps bending in unexpected ways; flashes of sardonic comedy; and a sense of tragic inevitability that Ibsen himself might have admired. Flawlessly performed by the original London cast (three of the four won Tonys), it is one...

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