By Conor McPherson
The SeafarerJanuary 6, 2009 - February 15, 2009
Directed By Allen Nause
Running Time: approx 2.5 hours with a 20 minute intermission
Click here to learn more about Irish culture (including a glossary of Irish slang and the history of whiskey)
Award-winning Irish playwright McPherson tells a chilling story about the sea, Ireland and the power of myth. It’s Christmas Eve and Sharky has returned to Dublin to look after his irascible, aging brother. Old drinking buddies Ivan and Nick are also on hand, hoping to play some cards over a bottle of whiskey. But the arrival of a stranger from the distant past raises the stakes. Sharky may be playing for his very soul. Described as “simultaneous rollicking and haunting,” McPherson’s play shows us that even in the darkest times of your life, miracles can happen.
McPherson talks about The Seafarer in an interview with The Lowry:
TL: I remember reading something about how beautifully structured your plays are and the dialogue that you use is incredibly beautiful. There seems to be a lack of monologues in The Seafarer, something that you have used a lot in earlier plays. How did that come about?
CM: Well, I went through a phase of writing just monologue after monologue for a long time. I don’t know why, but it was the most natural way for me to talk to an audience and that was the way it was. It’s not conscious, you just move on to something else, it’s not a decision really. But I really exhausted that for myself, I think I had to. It wasn’t what I started writing. I started writing plays like this, which were more ensemble pieces, then I drifted into doing monologues and that’s when I started making a living. That’s what I became known for and then as I moved back out of that, then it was like “Why is your work changing?” But it will change and it will probably change into other things, I hope.
TL: Obviously the play is about loneliness and the more depressing issues about the human condition, and yet you bring those issues across through comedy. How difficult is that to do?
CM: Well the strange thing about laughter in the theatre is that often I wouldn’t be writing things saying “Oh, this is very funny.” It’s really when you put it in front of the audience and they laugh… I think that people laugh in a live experience for lots of different reasons. Sometimes they might laugh just because it is funny, sometimes they laugh because they aren’t sure what’s happening and the audience is talking to itself and to the performers. And either saying “Yes, we know what’s happening here” or “We like it” or “Continue.” It’s a kind of form of communication but it’s actually in a way easier than you think, because when people get into a room like that together, they want to laugh. They want to have a good time and they will laugh way more than you ever expected.
TL: It’s not always in what you have written, though is it, the comedy? It’s in the direction as well. It must have been so important to get the right comic actors in there as well in order to do that.
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"This is the best ensemble piece I have seen in Portland."
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