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The Seafarer

Dec 3, 2010 - Dec 10, 2010

The Seafarer
By Conor McPherson

Iowa Premiere

DATES Dec. 3-12, 2010
TIMES Wed-Sat at 7:30 p.m., Sun at 3 p.m.

Tony Award and Olivier (London) Award Nominee – Best Play.
“A timeless classic.” – Hollywood Reporter
In the grand tradition of Irish storytelling, comes this Christmas fable about the sea, Ireland, and the power of myth. It’s Christmas Eve in Dublin. In the rundown house where Sharky cares for his blind brother, old acquaintances gather for a card game – joined by an ominous stranger. As the booze flows and the game intensifies, Sharky discovers that he may be playing for his very soul. In this eerie, haunting tale, celebrated Irish playwright Conor McPherson examines how we face the demons of our past, and struggle for redemption.


James “Sharkey” Harkin ­- Tom Geraty
Mr. Lockhart ­- Joe Smith
Richard Harkin ­- Ron Borstad
Nicky Giblin ­- Scott Siepker
Ivan Curry ­- Shawn Wilson


Director: Brad Dell
Scenic Designer: Jay Jagim
Lighting Designer: Ron Gilbert
Sound Designer: Josh Jepson
Costume Designer: Emily Ganfield
Hair/Wig Designer: Cindy Hummel
Dramaturge: Nancy Evans


By Michael Morian, The Des Moines Register
A decade after the singer Joan Osborne wondered “What if God was one of us?” in her 1995 radio hit, the Irish playwright Conor McPherson twisted the question around: What if the Devil was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?
And what if he wore a trench coat? And drank too much? And showed up in a little Irish town on Christmas Eve to play a round of poker?
Well, wonder no more. Satan does just that in McPherson’s award-winning play “The Seafarer,” which StageWest and director Brad Dell present with gusto and occasional gravity through Sunday at the Civic Center’s Stoner Theater.
In the “fable about a struggle for redemption,” as the playwright describes it, four alcoholics stumble into the story one by one: Sharky Harkin (Tom Gerarty), who swore off booze for the holiday; his crotchety brother Richard (Ron Borstad), who lost his sight a few months back; their oafish friend Ivan (Shawn Wilson); and a big-talking goofball named Nicky (Scott Siepker), who is dating Sharky’s ex. They gather in the home the Harkin brothers share (essentially a man cave, decked out for the holidays by scenic designer Jay Jagim), pour themselves a few drinks and settle in for a long winter’s night away from their wives and girlfriends.
“In the absence of women, men are able to revert to this infantile thing that liberates them from responsibility,” the playwright told the Chicago Tribune. “If a woman walked onto the set of ‘Seafarer,’ the play would be over.”
So instead, the Devil shows up, in the affable form of Mr. Lockhart (Joe Smith), a stranger Nicky invited in off the street. Soon enough, it becomes clear that Mr. Lockhart lost a poker game to Sharky years ago and has come to settle the score. (Cue the supernatural red lights and throbbing bass notes, designed by Ron Gilbert and Joshua Jepson, respectively).
The play’s title comes from an 8th-century epic poem by the same name, about a hero like Sharky, who has to face either his demons or eternal damnation, and Gerarty gives the new struggle the weight it deserves. He and Smith stare each other down from opposite sides of the poker table, locked in a silent duel even as the other characters trade boozy jokes.
But sometimes those jokes hijack the story, especially in the slower first act. The playwright, a recovered alcoholic himself, makes it clear that Mr. Lockhart isn’t the only demon on stage, and although the supporting characters’ whiskey-fueled antics are occasionally funny – Borstad is especially good – the actors rely too often on yelling to show they’re drunk. It slows down the action and makes the show seem out of joint, as if the dudes from “The Hangover” kept stumbling into “A Christmas Carol.”
Still, there are worse ways to celebrate the holidays than with a thoughtful play like this one. Despite its darker themes, “The Seafarer” brings good tidings of its own for Christmas and a happy new year with a cup – or more – of good cheer.


Left to Right: Joe Smith, Ron Borstadt and Tom Geraty.  Photo by Casey Gradischnig
Left to Right: Joe Smith, Ron Borstadt and Tom Geraty. Photo by Casey Gradischnig


Dec 3, 2010
Dec 10, 2010
Event Category:


StageWest Theatre
900 Mulberry St., Suite 205
Des Moines, IA 50309 United States
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