Smarmy reductionists have accused playwright Martin McDonagh of lacking heart, exploiting cheap theatrics and failing to justify his characters' behavior. However, like the works of such master language architects as Anton Chekhov, Harold Pinter and even Irish expatriate Samuel Beckett, McDonagh's creations attain full flower only when nurtured by a seasoned director's artful touch. As expertly deciphered by the Denver Center Theatre Company's first-rate cast, McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane
evolved into a vibrant portrait of contemporary Irish mores. By looking beyond obvious horizons, director Anthony Powell and company kindled feeling without lapsing into sentiment, startled the intellect without cudgeling the mind -- and helped to explain why the upstart McDonagh has reawakened dramatic imaginations on both sides of the Atlantic.