BWW Review: PORT AUTHORITY at Quotidian Theatre Company
Conor McPherson's 2006 play, Port Authority, now onstage in Bethesda at Quotidian Theatre, lacks bells, whistles, or coups de theatre. But Thornton Wilder quoted Molière as saying that all he needed for theatre was passion and a platform or two. And that's what's on offer in the well-acted revival of the 90 minute piece.
To be sure, director Jack Sbarbori has designed a sturdy pier and a waterside shed with his usual attention to visual detail. But the passions inside three characters make this play and production riveting.
The three men of Dublin lived in different decades; they don't know or speak with each other, though their lives do glance off one another in subtle ways which McPherson crafts. Kevin, the youngest, has had a strange experience trying to move into a house shared with several other twentysomethings. The male housemates are barely domesticated, but Kevin meets two extraordinary young women who change his life, though not in ways the audience may presume to predict. Chris Stinson plays him as the old soul he discovers he is; Stinson makes a perfect set of choices throughout his segments of the play.
Matthew Valky's middle-aged Dermot has inadvertently become caught up in the class system with which the UK continues to internally struggle. Vaky brings clarity to a character who lacks it; Dermot's messy, and his own weaknesses make worse situations for which he's not responsible. It's a richly layered rendering of a complicated man who's in a jam made by other people.
The oldest gent, Joe, has led a blameless life; late in it, something from his past turns up which makes him more reflective and unexpectedly less internal. Joseph Palka gives a steadiness to Joe as long repressed memories and feelings inconveniently surface.
In addition to creating their own detailed characterizations, all three actors also give life to many other people referenced by McPherson's storytelling style: Dermot's wife, Mary, Kevin's housemate, Claire, and Sister Pat, one of the nuns in charge of the group home where Joe resides-these three women and dozens of other people become as real as the three characters onstage during Port Authority.
No helicoptors, varilites, sound design, chandeliers, confrontations with the audience through the fourth wall, guns, or body mikes. Port Authority makes theatre with three actors, acting, one Irish playwright, passion, and a platform or two. The play continues through November 17 at the Writers' Center. FYI: firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-816-1023
Photo by Steve LaRocque