Sunday, May 31, 2009

Get Out Of My Face, Theater

Last night, the wife and I saw Conor McPherson's The Seafarer, a play set in one room that takes place mostly on Christmas Eve. We saw it at the Arden Theatre, which is a great intimate venue in Philadelphia.

The Seafarer is really a simple story of men fighting their demons, both metaphorically and literally. I was impressed by how well McPherson's writing managed to inject laugh-out-loud humor into a play that was at times a very dark meditation on life.

The five actors all turned in wonderful performances too - Joe Hickey, Anthony Lawton, Brian Russell, Greg Wood, and William Zielinski - so I recommend the play itself and the actors without reservation. It really was a treat to see a well-written, well-acted play, something I don't do enough of.


The title of my post is a poor play on words, referring to In-Yer-Face Theatre, a phrase used to describe "young playwrights who present vulgar, shocking, and confrontational material on stage as a means of involving and affecting their audience." There's nothing vulgar about McPherson's writing, unless you find the f word objectionable, but the material is confrontational and at times shocking.

If you'd like to learn more about Conor McPherson, check out this interview. If great actors like Ciaran Hinds are drawn to McPherson's material, he must be doing something right.


seanag said...

Brian, I was lucky enough to see this play on Broadway when I was there last year. My sister and I went on almost a whim, because I had read a review not too long before, and it worked out. It was really a wonderful evening of theatre, and I'd say one of the best things that happened on our trip. The guy who played the older brother won a Tony, and though it was really ensemble acting at its best, rather than a tour de force by one person, I was thrilled he got it anyway.

I'll check out that interview a bit later.

Brian O'Rourke said...


That's really cool you got to see it on Broadway. You're right, The Seafarer really is an ensemble piece, but the Richard character is so vibrant, in the hands of a capable actor I feel he's going to steal the show every time. Richard is much like ancient Athens--"first among equals."

seanag said...

Yes, that's apt. And in the case of the Broadway play, I had to credit the (with all due deference) older Irish actor enormously just for being able to handle the physical aspect of the whole thing. More than many plays, this is just 'devilish' hard work.