'The Seafarer' ...
As Ciarán and I walked west on 45th after the show, as I gushed about how wonderful a play it was, as I told him that my heart was still racing, I finally settled on this summary: "The cast is alchemy."
Alchemy. Five singularly brilliant performances that, together, add up to, simply, art.
You might suggest that all theater is art. And perhaps you'd have a point. Art is in the eye of the beholder. Art is subjective. But in my view, there is good art. There is bad art. And then there is art that changes you.
The play ends its run at the end of the month. I strongly, strongly encourage everyone – everyone who lives in New York and everyone who doesn't – to see this play with this cast.
Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater
After the play, Ciarán and I encountered Jim's wife (I hope my memory is correct in remembering that her name is Mary) on our way to dinner. Jim appeared from the ether and I found myself walking alongside him, chatting easily while Ciaran and Mary walked behind us.
Stage actors amaze me. They so fully and believably embody characters for two hours – sometimes twice a day – for months on end, but every night, with a step off the stage, they set those short-term psyches aside and return to their affable selves.
Jim is not Richard. Ciarán is not Mr. Lockhart. Sean Mahon is not Nicky Giblin. The jaw-dropping Conleth Hill is not Ivan Curry. And the heartbreakingly perfect David Morse is not Sharky.
Except when they are.
Every character is dramatically different. Mr. Lockhart is refined yet dastardly, Richard is upbeat despite being downtrodden, Ivan is the calming force whose hands would shake if it weren't for plenty of whiskey, Nicky is all too aware of the shallow trappings of his hollow life, and Sharky is the brother who has returned home but remains desperately lost.
It is an exquisite psychological symphony, with playwright and director Conor McPherson wielding the baton.
The New York Times is a tough theatrical-review nut to crack, but
"As the central adversaries, Mr. Morse and Mr. Hinds give the show a diamond-hard dramatic center it lacked in London. Mr. Morse locates exactly the fear of going wrong in the hulking, taciturn Sharky’s careful movements and measured words. Mr. Hinds is uncanny in balancing the mortal failings of Mr. Lockhart’s borrowed body and the immortal rage and agony of the demon within."
So while I may be biased, in my opinion I am not alone.
See this play.