Monday, 11 February 2013

The Seafarer

Perth Theatre
4 stars
It’s easy to mistake the first half hour of Conor McPherson’s 2006 West 
End and Broadway hit for a hangover from the in-yer-face era. Once 
McPherson’s metaphysical fascinations kick in, however, this furious 
tale of five booze-sodden men holed up in an Irish cottage playing 
poker on Christmas Eve becomes a matter of life and death.
Sharky has returned home to look after his blind brother, Richard, 
who’s also tended to by his drinking buddy, Ivan. Sharky is off the 
sauce and trying to put his life back together, but when local wide-boy 
and Sharky’s nemesis Nicky turns up with a mysterious stranger called 
Mr Lockhart in search of a game of cards, it’s as if all his demons 
have come home to roost.
McPherson has crafted a  meatily fantastical yarn which rips into macho 
self-loathing, the psychologically addictive allure of gambling, and 
how the long term consequences of every misguided action will always 
get you in the end. It’s an astonishing piece of writing that fuses a 
contemporary scenario with a dangerous supernatural edge that’s utterly 
convincing.
For all the ferocity of Rachel O’Riordan’s co-production between Perth 
and the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, its subtle touches, like the way Sharky 
touches the portrait of Christ every time he goes upstairs, shine 
through. There’s a sense too of the blind leading the blind throughout 
a set of mighty performances. Louis Dempsey’s Sharky, Tony Flynn as 
Nicky, Ciaran McIntyre as Richard and Sean O’Callaghan as Ivan are all 
terrific. Benny Young’s savagely looming presence as the diabolical Mr 
Lockhart, meanwhile, is terrifying. The end may sentimentalise Sharky’s 
second chance, but, until the next time, he’s a very lucky man indeed.
The Herald, February 11th 2013
ends

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