Kilmeen Drama Group with ‘The Seafarer’ by Conor McPherson

Setting

Richard Harkin’s house in Baldoyle, Co. Dublin.

Synopsis

It’s Christmas Eve, 2006, and Sharky has returned to Dublin to look after his ageing brother, who’s recently gone blind. Old drinking buddies Ivan and Nicky are holed up at the house too, hoping to play cards. But with the arrival of a stranger from the distant past, the stakes are raised from a friendly card game to a soul taking All IN showdown.

Cast

James “Sharky” Harkin Tommie Moyles
Richard Harkin Mike Russell
Ivan Curry John Hughes
Nicky Giblin Greg Mulcahy
Mr. Lockhart Darren Cannon

Crew

Director Donie Walsh
Stage Manager Nora Murphy
Stage Crew Sharon Mawe McCarthy
Rory O’ Connor
Props & Set Dressing Rory Long
Aileen O’ Donovan
Aisling Murphy
Lighting Denis O’ Donovan
John O’ Shea
Sound Denis O’ Mahony
Ian Flavin
Hair & Make-Up Rosaleen Beechinor
Jennie Readman
 Poster Design Ian Flavin
Set Design & Construction Felix Daly
John Helen
Pat Clancy
Set Decorator Ana Maria Surdu
Tegan Hurley
Set Crew Felix Daly
Pat Clancy
John Helen
Connie Murphy
Mike Deasy
John Hayes
Aidan O’ Shea
Mike Crowley
Transport Manager John Hayes

About The Group

Kilmeen Drama Group, based in Rossmore, West Cork, are one of the longest established drama groups in the country, regularly competing on the 3 Act and 1 Act circuits. In 2013, Kilmeen were crowned All Ireland champions at the RTÉ 3 Act Open Drama Finals in Athlone, for the third consecutive year, with ‘The Playboy of the Western World’. They have recently returned from a successful tour to New York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania with the Playboy.

Summary of Adjudicator’s Comments

The adjudicator, Geoff O’Keeffe began by commenting about being brought that day to Glasson on a trip, for “a spot of lunch,” and seeing “views to die for,”. He commented with jest and hope to the audience that he is completely booked up on Wednesday but he has a window tomorrow……

He talked about Ben Brantley from the New York Times being one of the most influential theatre critics in the world, and how if he slates a show, it folds. He said that Brantley described Conor McPherson as “one of the finest writers of his generation,” which Geoff said is an indication of how critically successful McPherson’s work has being applauded.
Geoff told of ‘The Seafarer’ premiering at the English National Theatre and it then going to Broadway, and also to the Abbey Theatre. He called it a “tragic comedy of male dereliction,” and a “finely tuned tale, with demons of failure, and regret,” showing “the inability to take responsibility, and alcohol being a means of escape which becomes a prison,”.
He said the “emotional squalor of the place is highlighted,” in the play, and the “interaction with the men is full of nuance and heart,”.
He said ‘The Seafarer’ opens in darkness and closes in light, which shows redemption and hope, and it features a “card game like no other with the stakes so high,”.
The adjudicator said such a story needs a production that is gripping, suspenseful and compelling. He put the question to the audience – “Are Kilmeen on a Winning Streak?”
He said the set presentation is in tune with the world of these men. He commented on the set dressings, the textured walls, and he said it all creates a good space for the actors to work in.
“It feels slightly claustrophobic, feels contained, and you could smell it from the balcony, and it was rank, it was disgusting, as it should be,” said Geoff.
He praised the set design and construction team of: Felix Daly, John Helen and Pat Clancy, and said their work was in tune with the play.
“The lighting was designed by Denis O’Donovan and John O’Shea, and it complements the set very effectively, and the lighting to suggest the outdoors is effective,” said the adjudicator.
He commented on the lighting becoming more sinister and more intense in the second half of the play – as the card game was happening.
“It was very evocative and very moody,” he said.
Geoff said there was very good use of sound to link the scenes and it was very well pitched, and he liked the “bed of sound,” that accompanies Lockhart’s attack on Sharkey. He praised the work of Denis O’Mahony and Ian Flavin, for sound.
He said the costumes were suitably filthy and stained.
“Richard’s shirt was fit for burning,” said Geoff, who praised Lockhart’s outfit, including red socks, which told the audience who the character was. “A strong presentation from Kilmeen.”
Geoff commented that a director has to be careful about choosing a play and cast, and that Donie Walsh was served well by his five actors tonight.
“They worked as a team effectively, finding a lot of nuances of the play, and finding highs and lows, and creating interesting pictures, and they moved naturally,” said the Adjudicator.
He praised the actors work with their characters, “layers,”.
However the first act of the play was strident and angry, he found, and at times the audience were “locked out a bit,”. But he found the play began to move on, with the arrival of Ivan.
“At times I felt myself withdrawing in my seat, so think of us, think of us who are with the story, hearing the story, but once we got into the story, we found layers within the characters and found nuances that allowed us to empathise with the characters,” said Geoff.
He said that Lockhart was imposing and “was the devil and looked the part,” and the part where he put Sharkey up against the wall, was quite chilling.
“I found the comedy lines punched very well, like the line, “Don’t talk to me about trouble in paradise,” said the Adjudicator.
Geoff wondered if the glasses that Ivan wears were “Jack Duckworth glasses,” and he calls that scene where he wears them first, a “lovely moment,”
On stage, the adjudicator opened the toilet door, and called what he found, “disgusting,”.
“There was lots of really good stuff happening, but when Lockhart was describing the place when playing cards, I felt it could be paced up slightly more, and pushed on a bit, but it was a very interesting creative work, well done to Donal,” said Geoff.
He praised all five actors of ‘The Seafarer’.
“Sharkey played by Tommy Moyles had stage presence, and in his stillness he communicated so well to us, he found anger, he found regret, and we felt it for him,” said Geoff. “It was an accomplished work.”
He found Mike Russell acted well as the blind Richard, which he said is not easy to do.
“John Hughes as Ivan made the character really likable and made you want to empathise with him,” said the adjudicator.
He said Nicky was also well done, considering it is a most difficult role for an actor. Nicky was played by Greg Mulcahy.
“Lockhart, played by Darren Cannon, had a wonderful stage presence and his stillness was quite magnetic,” said Geoff.
He concluded by saying Kilmeen showed a suitably disgusting place and also the broken lives of these men. He said the director worked well with the five actors to find the play’s many layers.

“There was so many moments well marked, and when it found its course, The Seafarer brought us on a wonderful booze cruise,” ended the adjudicator.