December 12, 2008

Not your average Christmas play at TheaterWorks

It's not your average Christmas story, but "The Seafarer," now playing at TheaterWorks, offers compassion and hope for troubled souls in a festive season.

And there's some wicked humor thrown in for good measure.

"The Seafarer," by playwright Conor McPherson and directed by Henry Wishcamper, takes place in a working class home in present day Dublin, Ireland, on Christmas Eve.

The show offers a terrific cast, a great set and edge-of-the seat suspense in the second half of the show.

Dean Nolen is outstanding in the role of Sharky Harkin, an alcoholic loser who has thoroughly wrecked his life and is making yet another stab at coming clean.

This Christmas, Sharky is visiting his blind brother Richard (Edmond Genest), who inherited the humble family home and ends up playing in a spirited poker game.

The intensity of the drama is kept under wraps, since most of the players are blissfully unaware of the high stakes of Sharky's game against a diabolical stranger.

This provocative show has plenty of tension, but it gets off to a very slow start. McPherson spends a lot of time proving that the two brothers and their friend Ivan, played by John Ahlin, are losers, when that fact becomes obvious within a few moments of the show's opening.

The 18 empty beer cans strewn around the living room made it abundantly clear.

Allen McCullough does a convincing job of playing the wicked stranger, Mr. Lockhart, and ironically, bears a striking resemblance to an editor we know.

More bitter irony comes when other cast members remind Sharky of the old adages, "It's only a game," "It's only money," and "Let's play!"

Chris Genebach rounds out the cast as Nicky, a visiting friend who joins in the game.

The set itself does a good job of showing that the place hasn't had an update in decades. An especially great touch is a statue of Jesus illuminated by a battery-operated candle standing in front of it. The candle's mysterious propensity to light or flicker out at strategic moments adds to the show's humor.

The surprise ending? It's devilishly clever, and oh-so-appropriate for the season. Don't miss it.

"The Seafarer's" run is extended through December 28.

TheaterWorks, on Pearl Street in downtown Hartford, is celebrating its 23rd year, and to that end, is hoping audience members who like what they see will become donors.

At a recent performance, box office and house manager Josh Demers asked people to consider making a tax-deductible charitable contribution of $23 – or more.

With the recession in full swing, the theater may see a reduction in corporate sponsorship, said Demers, making audience support even more crucial.

Tickets to "The Seafarer" are $47 Friday and Saturday nights and $37 for other shows. College students can get $10 rush tickets at showtime with an ID, and high school students can get free tickets courtesy of Lincoln Financial Foundation.

The best deal for non-students is a subscription for the season, which includes five plays, and is $123. For more information, call the theater at (860)527-7838 or see the website at

TheaterWorks next show, "Dead Man's Cell Phone," a comedy by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Rob Ruggiero, starts January 30.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

1 comment:

Frank said...

Would be nice to have the money to see it.