Kilmuckridge Drama Group present ‘The Seafarer’ by Conor McPherson

Setting

Synopsis

‘The Seafarer’ is a chilling new play 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 who’s recently gone blind. Old drinking buddies Ivan and Nicky are holed up at the house too, hoping to play some cards. But with the arrival of a stranger from the distant past, the stakes are raised ever higher. Sharky may be playing for his very soul

Cast

James “Sharky” Harkin Michael Murphy
Richard Harkin Richard Devereux
Ivan Curry Ger Teehan
Nicky Giblin John Hearne
Mr. Lockhart Barry O’Leary

Crew

Director Michael Johnston
Stage Manager Mairead Cummings
Lighting Billy McCreary / Karen Gleeson
Sound Tony Brady
Make Up Marjorie Gahan, Annette McArthy, Kate Devereux
Stage Crew Rosslyn Brady, Mary Mordaunt
Set Crew Matty Foley, Aidan O’Connor, Peter Prendergast, Murt McArthy

About The Group

Kilmuckridge Drama Group reformed in 2007 to put on drama in the local area and on the one act and three act festival circuits.  Based in Kilmuckridge in Co Wexford and located in Kilmuckridge Memorial Hall, the group has approximately fifty members involved in acting, directing and supporting roles.

Summary of Adjudicator’s Comments

At the beginning of the adjudication, Anna Walker ADA commented to the audience – ‘What a Great Night’s Entertainment, we had!’ – to a round of applause.
She called Kilmuckridge, a group “at the top of their game”.
She said that the famous theatre critic; Ben Brantley called Conor McPherson, writer of ‘The Seafarer’ – “a force to be reckoned with,”.
Ms Walker told the audience that the play was first performed in the National Theatre in 2007, and then transferred to Broadway, and McPherson himself directed it in the Abbey Theatre in 2009.
“Conor McPherson said he is fascinated with the supernatural, and as a child he had a problem sleeping in the dark, and that is when all the ideas about the supernatural came into his head,” said the Athlone adjudicator.
She called the play “very gripping and compelling with humour and suspense,”
“It is one room, one night, in real time, and Conor McPherson wanted to embrace those seeming limitations to see what is powerful about it, and then he added vast amounts of alcohol into the mix,” said Ms Walker. “He believed drink was a potent symbol in Irish drama, and provides a portal allowing a transcendence.”
She told the gathering about the play’s premise being the “devil coming on Christmas Eve to take a man’s soul,”.
“The play is entertaining but also incredibly chilling,” she said. “The characters are heavy drinkers, alcoholics, lost men, and unable to deal with the cut and thrust of normal living. Their human failings are exposed and they are men who can’t negotiate real life. But didn’t we fall in love with each and every one of them?”
This is a play with specific needs to capture the humour and the supernatural chill. We must feel the darkness simmering under the surface.
Ms Walker said that director Michael Johnston captured the humour. However, the darkness and supernatural qualities needed greater exploration.
“I thought the comedy was so well realised especially in the first section of the play, and comedy is so personal, and I laughed and laughed, and thought Michael Johnston did a great job,” she said. “However I would have liked if the darkness had been realised even more, because I felt the chill wasn’t quite cold enough.”
She thought the opening had great pace and thought the brothers’ relationship was captured excellently, and she really believed that they were brothers.
“They cared and they didn’t care for each other,” said Ms. Walker. “The bathroom, I thought was unbelievably disgusting and brilliantly done. As the play progresses, I felt there were issues with the cues, and the entrance of Lockhart and Nicky was underpaced. There was a loss of energy when they came in. However, the director used the stage space well, and I thought the director captured the interdependence of these guys.”
She found the final scene between Sharkey and Richard very moving and felt the hope and love that was captured in the scene had great energy, camaraderie and was unforced.
The set was much cleaner than she thought it would be, but she loved the touches, the barstool, the Guinness mirror, and the tray which she thought had probably been nicked from a bar. “The lighting and sound should have underscored the menace and the text even more, it needs to grow and develop and develop. If you build the sound and dim the lights it will create more atmosphere and give a sense of the outside.
“She thought that Nicky who was played by John Hearne had a rate of delivery that was very fast, but she thought that the actor grew in stature, and there was a lovely dim sense to him.
“He had a naïve childlike quality, and he didn’t have a wallet, but had money in his pocket, which really suited that character,” said the adjudicator.
The actor playing Lockhart had an imposing physical presence, but she would liked to have seen him as a primal force of nature, and feel the chill. “We should have felt the hair up at the back of our neck, but in Act 2 this actor came into his own, and used beautiful language so fluid, and he captured the meaning of hell in his speech – well done to Barry O’Leary”, she said.
Richard, played by Richard Devereux captured his irasicible quality. There was a feral sense to this tongue lolling character. She liked how he lunged from sentimentality to viciousness, and how he inhabited his chair. “In the card game, he was always listening; always seeing what he could get, and always out for himself. In those pauses, he judged it so well.”
However, there were some vocal issues, as the actors voice faded out at line endings, and not all of the tensions therefore were captured.
She said she fell a little bit in love with Ivan, played by Ger Teehan, who is the light relief in the play.
“Humour can never ever be forced, and he played it exactly, and I loved his hopelessness, his incapable nature, and his excellent reaction to everything,” said Ms Walker. “He had great focus, was a bumbling idiotic man, and I thought he lit up the stage tonight.”
She said that Sharkey played by Michael Murphy had a lovely stage presence and there was great warmth, and restlessness to this character.
“He feels inadequate, and absolutely delivered it, and was a straight man to Richard, and had good devoted quality, with a sense of isolation and good body language, thanks to great direction,” said the adjudicator. “He didn’t force anything and had a well-judged muted reaction. He was gentle, and had resigned acceptance, and that is the mark of a great actor to be able to do something like that.”
She said that she thought the “beating heart in the play was realised, and that the director found those little miracles of life that friendship can provide,”.
“This ship of fools that cling to each other and their alcohol, gave us a great night’s entertainment,” said Ms. Walker.