Friday, October 15, 2010

The ADN Won't Review This Play

Seafarer at Cyrano's before Act I
We only got back to Anchorage late Wednesday night, but I was getting emails already in LA inviting me to give money at receptions Thursday night, for about five or six candidates, there was a talk at UAA, and an email from Cyrano's about The Seafarer.  
"...each member of the cast nailed it. I felt intoxicated myself just from watching the booze go down. The way they tossed those lines around, with that Irish version of the English language, was the best, most realistic conversational exchange I've ever seen in a play (didn't seem like I was watching a 'play')." -- Kerry Feldman

"The Seafarers is FANTASTIC. I'm super impressed with the acting. Congrats on a great show." -- Scott Schofield  [Note:  Everything else calls it The Seafarer.]
Sandy Harper, Cyrano Producing Artistic Director, post show
I've known Kerry for a long, long time at UAA, and I've met Scott a few times now at Out North and if they both gave such strong recommendations, I had better pay attention.  ( I didn't realize until I read the program Thursday night, that Kerry is a member of the Cyrano's Theatre Company and one of Scott's 'sustaining volunteers' at Out North was one of the actors in Seafarer.) 

I called to see if there were still seats left for tonight's show and there were.  

I'm not a fan of literature that focuses on dysfunctional alcoholics. (Are there functional alcoholics?)   It's painful to watch and it's not a world with which I identify.  But  these works take me into a world I don't know and can learn from.  If they're done well.  It took me a while to get over my bias, but as things progressed, the play had a lot more to say than I was expecting. 
Dick Reichman as Richard Harkin (after the show)

It turned out to be outstanding - five male parts, all with Irish accents - and the playwright, Conor McPherson is hailed in the program as "the best new playwright of his generation."  Of course, I had to check that.  Wikipedia says, "He is considered one of the best contemporary Irish playwrights."   The LA Times review of his recent movie "Eclipse" was very positive.

And I feel a responsibility to let Anchorage folks know this is really good theater and you have just Friday and Saturday evenings at 7pm and Sunday afternoon at 3pm to see it. I asked Sandy if there were tickets left and she said yes.  But tonight's show was pretty close to full, so I'd recommend you get tickets ahead.  Cyrano's is downtown at 413 D St.

Why a responsibility?  The play's program says:

So, here I am online telling Anchorage and beyond. 

You aren't allowed to take pictures during the performance so the ones here were taken before the play started - at the beginning and during the intermission - and after it was over.  So the actors I caught were out of costume.  Except Sharky's band aid which Rodney Lamb forgot to take off. 

The Guardian wrote about McPherson and this play:
Mark Stoneburner as Nicky Giblin (post play)
There's a distinctive sound Conor McPherson makes when he describes how he writes plays: a sort of viscous, splurting noise, like something gooey landing, splat, on a table. Plays come "very much from the unconscious for me", he says. "I describe it as coming from the body and your brain is catching up." It starts when an image arrives unprompted in his head; slowly the people it contains start to move and talk, then splurt: there they are on the page.
It's not an explanation that quite does justice to the poetry and magic of his work. Ever since The Weir opened in London in 1997, when he was just 25, McPherson has held audiences and critics spellbound with his tales of lost souls and troubled lives. Often, the trouble he depicts reflects his own: although he says he never sets out to write about his own experience, you can trace the path of his life in the stories of alcohol abuse, broken relationships, death and disappointed hope he depicts.
Rodney Lamb as Sharky (post play)

Next week he makes his debut at the National Theatre with The Seafarer, a fable about two brothers - one an incorrigible drunk, the other newly, tentatively sober - playing host to the devil on Christmas Eve. McPherson is the first to admit: "I'm all the characters in the play" - perhaps most especially the disappointed demon, Lockheart [all the other sources leave out the 'e'], who envies the men among whom he moves. McPherson wrote the play in fewer than eight months; it could be his most moving, accomplished work yet. .  .

 By the way, Wikipedia says the play's name comes from an old poem by that name.

The Seafarer is an Old English poem recorded in the Exeter Book, one of the four surviving manuscripts of Old English poetry. It contains 124 lines and has been commonly referred to as an elegy, a poem that mourns a loss, or has the more general meaning of a simply sorrowful piece of writing. . .

It is told from the point of view of an old seafarer, who is reminiscing and evaluating his life as he has lived it. In lines 1–33a, the seafarer describes the desolate hardships of life on the wintry sea. He describes the anxious feelings, cold-wetness, and solitude of the sea voyage in contrast to life on land where men are surrounded by kinsmen, free from dangers, and full on food and wine. . .  [There's more at Wikipedia The Seafarer.]
Just before Act II  
 I probably better mention that Brian Saylor did the set design.  I worked with him at UAA  too.   

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