The Seafarer - An Irish Cautionary Tale Comes to the Geffen Playhouse

(l to r) John Mahoney, Paul Vincent O'Connor, Andrew Connolly, Matt Roth & Tom Irwin in "The Seafarer"

The Seafarer opens in the livivng room of the Harkin Family, just like any other Irish Christmas Eve. Our hero, James “Sharky” Harkin (Andrew Connolly) rises in the morning to a house in a shambles, the result of another night of heavy drinking by his blind brother Richard (John Mahoney), and his partner in pints, Ivan (Paul Vincent O’Connor). Sharky himself has recently given up drinking after it cost him his latest job as a chauffeur to a wealthy couple in the next town.

Sharky has always had a hard time doing the right thing, or being in the right place at the right time. He has a long history of failures and bar fights under his belt, among which is a failed marriage from which he has two children which he does not see very often. Sobriety is a kind of ultimate self-imposed punishment for everything he’s gotten wrong, and a small symbolic last ditch effort to finally get his life in order.

John Mahoney (l.) and Andrew Connolly in "The Seafarer"

Perhaps the only thing he gets partially right is meeting his responsibility in being the “caretaker” of his blind brother Richard who drinks too much, spewing nagging, non-stop chatter about everything and nothing. Ironically, it is blind older brother Richard who is rambunctious, feisty and full of joie de vive while Sharky is a sullen and self-pitying.

Tom Irwin in "The Seafarer"

Despite Sharky’s objections, enter Nicky Giblin (Matt Roth) and his new found friend Mr. Lockhart (Tom Irwin). Nicky’s presence is a thorn in Sharky’s side because Nicky is now the man in his ex-wife’s life. Mr. Lockhart, while seemingly a nice enough man, also seems a bit too dignified for such humble, homespun diversions as a friendly game of Five card draw. But he likes to drink and he has cash, which means he qualifies.

The friendly game of poker takes a dark turn during the evening. Once alone, Mr. Lockhart reminds Sharky of another wager he made many years ago and he has come to collect. Quite unexpectedly, Sharky is literally pulled into the most important poker game of his life.

Tom Irwin (l.) and Andrew Connolly in "The Seafarer"

If you enjoy watching the antics that the Irish are infamous, such as being heavy drinker and big storytellers, than Conor McPherson’s play will be right up your alley. However, the rest of us may find the first act rather long in the tooth. The piece busies itself with the mundane day to day routine of the brothers and Ivan well after the characters have been established. When the plot does kicks in, it packs a punch that is both surprising and powerful. While the performances are delightful, it does go on a while.

The cast of the Geffen Playhouse 2009 production of "The SeaFarer"

The entire cast of The Seafarers is first rate. Andrew Connolly, John Mahoney, Paul Vincent O’Connor, Matt Roth and Tom Irvin all delivered performances that were credible, nuanced and engrossing. This company of men gives us a wonderful tale of hope, both lost and found. Well Done

The Seafarer is currently running through May 24, 2009 at:

Geffen Playhouse
10886 Le Conte Avenue
Westwood Village
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Tickets: 310-208-5454

http://geffenplayhouse.com

Photo Credit: Michael Lamont

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