Review: Afloat or not?

by Paulina P.

If you want to be surprised by The Seafarer do yourself a favor and don’t read the program, everything you could possibly want to know about the plot, inspiration, and just general background of it is in that little program, so truly, don’t. It oversimplifies and over accents key elements of the story detracting from the enjoyment of the performance. It makes the audience think a little too much about what it means and instead of letting them laugh. Conor McPherson’s work is pushed beyond its limits and made to feel more serious than it is performed.

However, most people do not go and see plays for the program alone so let's talk about the performance shall we? It's Christmas in Ireland and something interesting is stirring about. Well more like a couple of hung-over middle-aged men are waking up after a very fun night. These are the three main cogs in this play wheel: Sharkey, the protagonist; Rich, ornery and Sharkey’s elder brother, and Ivan an old friend of the two. These three are at once conflict, character, and resolution. They create problems for each other but are also the only ones who can truly help each other out when worse comes to worse.

They have known each other for the longest time and each have something deep within them that may or may not be sinister. However, at this moment Sharkey has agreed to give up drinking, hoping that if he can at least make it through Christmas he will be able to quit for good. Unfortunately, Sharkey’s ex has a new boyfriend who’s not only driving Sharkey’s car but has brought a mysterious guest to drink and play cards with the group. The rest is for you to find out.

Even though I was not particularly impressed by the story itself this performance gives the audience a bit of heart. Each character in the group has some kind of obsession and attachment to alcohol but it doesn’t stop them from being who they are. It allows the story to bet at once humorous and serious because while one is laughing at the slapstick of the two older men, Rich and Ivan, one is meant to question their incessant need for their liquor. Their mannerisms are hilarious but their quest is not. That dualism pervades this performance and makes the audience think every time that happens.

That strength in their performance is made very clear because of some very specific character choices. Throwing things across the room or attempting to carry too many beer cans across the room helps to show the world that they live in, one of reaction and of omnipresent alcohol. Though one may assume that their world is that way just because it's Ireland, it is made clear that it could be almost anywhere. Besides their accents and slang terms, the problems presented in McPherson’s play are those present it all kinds of societies and households.

The Seafarer is playing now until March 28th, 2009 at the Seattle Repertory in the Bagley Wright theatre. It’s a little funny, a little serious, and a lot to take in from only five guys.

More info and show times:

Seattle Rep’s Ticket Office: 206-443-2222
Ticket Office Hours: Daily, noon – performance time

Seattle Rep is located at 155 Mercer Street, on the North edge of Seattle Center. It is served by buses 1,2,3,4,13,15,16,18,45, 74 and 85. For bus times:

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