Monday, December 15, 2008

Review: The Seafarer

Conor McPherson's play The Seafarer is exquisitely performed by Steppenwolf Theatre. The play itself is a masterpiece of Irish drama that examines our need as human beings not to be alone. The scene is set on Christmas Eve as friends gather to share their Christmas drink. Dark secrets of their pasts, however, come back to haunt them as a mysterious stranger arrives and wants to play cards. The stranger turns out to be the devil himself there to collect on old promises made many years ago.

The cast is solid all around. John Mahoney headlines as the blind Richard and is captivating to watch on stage. Francis Guinan plays his brooding brother haunted by the demons of his past. Guinan's performance is powerful and sympathetic. Alan Wilder plays their bumbling friend to a T with excellent subtlety. Tom Irwin's bass voice lyrically sings out the lilting Irish accent and rumbles with the deeper tragedy of the stranger Mr. Lockhart. Irwin finds humanity for the devil in McPherson's text that is both passionate and understated at the same time.

This play is an absolute must see. Irish drama can sometimes seem long-winded, boring, and interminably long but this production was none of the above. Funny and intelligent, the show clipped along and a beautifully even pace that kept you enthralled right to the end. A pearl of a play that is wonderfully suited with the Christmas message.

Happy Birthday: Julie Taymor (b. 1952)

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