The Seattle Rep's 'Seafarer' is a Winning Hand
The Seattle Rep's production of Conor McPherson's Tony Nominated play, "The Seafarer" only goes to show that the Rep is up there with the best of them and can produce the goods. In this life there are too many shows you can walk out of and say, "Eh, it was OK." But this production is an absolute winner and the Rep's cast and crew should be more than proud. The show is rock solid.
The story takes place at Christmas time in Ireland and "Sharky" (Hans Altwies) has come back home to take care of his older brother Richard (Sean G. Griffin) who has gone blind from an accident that happened one night when he had a few too many. Into this mix we add Ivan (Russell Hodgkinson) and Nicky (Shawn Telford) who have come over to throw back a few drinks ... or ten and play a little poker. But Nicky has brought with him a mysterious stranger, Mr. Lockhart (Frank Corrado) who is all too happy to join them for the game but with his own motives and devilishly high stakes for one of them. The brilliant script by McPherson keeps you on the edge of your seat with it's thrilling story and then has you rolling back and forth in your seat with it's uproarious dialogue.
The cast is nothing less than superb. A true ensemble cast if ever there was one, these men keep an exceptionally tight and crisp pace throughout. There is not a weak link in the play and they all manage to portray incredibly in-depth and complex characters. Griffin is hysterical as the older blind brother who has lost the censor filter in his brain along with his sight. He simply says what all of us want to say but wouldn't dare and does it with no apologies. Hodgkinson is equally hilarious as the bumbling and myopic Ivan but just when you think he's simply comic relief, he launches into a quiet intensity that is absolutely stunning. Telford is wonderful as the one force in the house trying to keep everything together. And Corrado manages to play the ultimate bad guy without ever becoming a caricature. He manages a subtle grace that keeps you guessing til the end. But the stand out (if there really can be one in an ensemble like this) is Altwies. He has the kind of focus you rarely see, and I've been fortunate enough to have seen it twice (he was in last season's "The Cure At Troy" at the Rep and was outstanding there too). Even when he's saying nothing, he's speaking volumes. He is a force to be reckoned with when on stage, but this amazing ensemble is completely up to the challenge.
All this is helmed astoundingly by Wilson Milam (Tony nominee for his direction of "The Lieutenant of Inishmore") who not only manages to draw out some stirring and intense performances and tell a riveting story but also with the help of Fight Choreographer, Geoffrey Alm, keeps the physical business alive in a very crowded set without anything looking staged or the actors killing themselves. I often say when one person in a cast is good, the credit should go to the actor. But when everyone is good, the credit should go to the director. And everything in this production is flawless. From the script, direction and cast, down to the lights, costumes, set and of course the booze. I mean, this is an Irish comedy, there is plenty of alcohol. A theme McPhereson tends towards in a lot of his plays in order to work out his own issues with the drink. And of course, there is plenty of harsh language. If this is something you have a hard time with, then you might want to stay home. But for the rest of you, get off your arse and get to the Rep for a few hands of poker with the cast of "The Seafarer". It's like having four aces!
"The Seafarer" plays at the Seattle Rep until March 28th. For ticket reservations, call the Seattle Repertory Theatre box office seven days a week at (206) 443-2222 or toll-free at (877) 900-9285, or go online at www.seattlerep.org.