BWW Reviews: The Ups and Downs of the Regional Premiere of THE SEAFARER - REVISED!
PLEASE NOTE: This is a Revision to my previous review, not a Retraction. I still stand by the views and opinions, it was just poorly executed and laid out (Oh Fer Fuck's Sake, I'm human!).
The regional premiere of Conor McPherson's Tony Award?winning play THE SEAFARER plays the Aurora Fox Theater now through March 2nd. The play, one of the most frequently produced plays at regional theaters around the country, is about four Irish drinking buddies gathered together on Christmas Eve; one of them has to play poker with the devil for his soul.
I was quite excited about going to see this show and my proud Irish heritage was screaming like a banshee in anticipation. This show was a head-scratcher and I was glad that I had the frosty cold Irish beer to help me out! This script was my definition of a fractured script whereas the action and plot line didn't really start until 45 minutes into the show. Let me explain - the show opens with everyone recovering from the raucous night before and regaling tales of their drunken woes. Drinking resumes, everyone goes grocery shopping in preparation of Christmas Eve and returns to start the festivities, then suddenly from completely out of left field, Mr. Lockhart as Satan appears for a game of cards for Sharky's soul and things suddenly get interesting. I guess my question was, "If this was a game of life or death, why did it take so long to get there?". Then it hit me - this entire show is actually a drunken tale told by one of the locals at the neighborhood pub! Once I realized this aspect, I had a whole new appreciation for this fascinating show full of strong male camaraderie. I commend Warren Sherrill for keeping the energy up during the first low key scene. I must also compliment the entire cast for some strong male bonding that made those little moments so endearing and humorous! I loved the tender interactions between the brothers and the wicked antics of Richard and Ivan (a blind man chasing after winos....hilarious). This show truly exposed alcoholics at their best and worst in an enlightened way. Mr Lockhart brought an interesting twist and things really came alive and active in Act Two. During this act, the question became, "Who is ultimately playing the game here - is it an innocent card game, or a manipulation of their lives?". There were some mesmerizing monologues in Act Two including Mr. Lockhart's description of hell and Richard's dream. While there was excellent build-up and momentum to the very end, there were a couple of character choices that I questioned. I would have liked to have seen more of a transformation in Mr. Lockhart when the guys start arguing and fighting because doesn't Satan relish in despair and anger? Also I needed a little more gloating from Mr. Lockhart when he won, that would have made the final twist even more fatal. All in all, this show had a unique plot and some great acting that really drew you in.
John Ashton was excellent as the self tortured James "Sharky" Harkin. While he played a more reserved role in the beginning, he transformed and came alive throughout the show and was wonderful to watch. Steef Sealy as his brother, Richard Harkin was also fantastic and his portrayal of a blind man was so realistic. I loved his diverse role that was chalk full of emotion and dramatic range. Warren Sherrill truly shone as the bumbling drunk Ivan Curry. His accent was spot on and he really drew you in with his magnetic performance. Brock Benson as Nicky Giblin was good and quite humorous, and while he seemed a little too over the top at time, it worked well for his character and delighted the audience. Kevin Hart was superb and charismatic as the menacing Mr. Lockhart and he also had an excellent Irish accent.
Set Designer Stuart Barr brought us a unique set that had all the likings of a dingy basement apartment. His attention to the small details was noticed and fantastic. The lighting by Chris Waller was colorful and fit every emotional scene and sound by designer Wendy Franz was adequate. I only wish that they had used the wonderful and ominous wind sound effect throughout the entire show. It was a haunting effect and would have given that ominous foreboding air of events to come. Director Michael Stricker chose a diverse and talented cast for this heavy show and you could tell that he gave extra attention to the accents (which is a gifted talent of his). I must also say that it was good to see a glimmer of the fiercely talented Paragon Theatre company and hope to see more of this in the future (we have missed you).
This show was a worthy homage to my Irish heritage and peaked my interest with a wonderfully talented male cast. John Ashton Productions presents THE SEAFARER enticing audiences at the Aurora Fox Theatre now through March 2nd. Performances are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee on February 24th at 2 p.m. The Aurora Fox Theatre is located at 9900 East Colfax Ave in Aurora, CO. For tickets or more information, contact the box office at 303?739?1970, or online at www.aurorafoxartscenter.org.
From This Author Michael Mulhern