UPDATED:The Seafarer: Gregory Boyd Bets It'll Make You LOL and Stop Your Breath

Categories: Stage

Seafarer prodpage 260x300.jpg
Photo courtesy of the Alley Theatre
A high-stakes poker game
Due to an injury incurred by actor Jeffrey Bean, the performance run of The Seafarer was postponed. They have been rescheduled for April 14,15, 17 and 18 with Opening Night on April 19 and continuing through May 5. Patrons who have tickets that are not on the new schedule will be contacted by the Alley about moving to a different performance.

As soon as Gregory Boyd finished reading Conor McPherson's play The Seafarer, the Alley Theatre's artistic director knew he had to stage it.

In it, two brothers settle down to play cards in a Dublin house with a couple of old drinking buddies when a stranger is brought into the mix. It's Christmas Eve but everything is not exactly merry -- one of the brothers has only recently become blind and the other is fighting alcoholism. As it turns out, more than money is at stake in this game.

"It's simply one of the best, most 'alive' plays of the past ten years. Vivid, funny, full of observed life and brilliant metaphor, and suspenseful," Boyd told Art Attack. "Plays about the Devil always interest me. This one made me laugh out loud and also stopped my breath."

And in fact, Boyd not only knew he wanted to stage it, he knew exactly who he wanted to play each part. The Seafarer features Alley Theatre Resident Acting Company members Jeffrey Bean as Ivan Curry, James Black as James "Sharky" Harkin, Chris Hutchison as Nicky Gilbin, John Tyson as Richard Harkin and Todd Waite as Mr. Lockhart.

"The five Company fellows are all amazing in this," Boyd said. "The inspiration is an ancient myth in County Wicklow about the Hellfire Club, which was a place where the aristocrat landowners would go. The story is that they were playing poker one night when a stranger knocked and came in. According to legend, the stranger has quiet, steady luck, and the other card-players gradually fall away, slipping into sleep and stupor. The stranger is on an unprecedented winning streak when his remaining opponent fumbles and drops a card. As the opponent bends down to pick up his cards, he notices the stranger's cloven foot."

"So 'the Devil among us' and the story of one's demons (literally) coming home to roost is one of the great human myths. And McPherson has made an astonishingly good contemporary fable out of it."

Boyd said the play defies easy characterization. "This being a Conor McPherson play, there is a mystery behind the situation and the characters - and, as in all of his work, it becomes a tale of lost souls and haunted lives, laced with a brilliant, pungent humor, and a love of myth and legend."

Asked who audiences can identify with in this play, Boyd said: "I identify with all of the characters - yes, including the Devil. He's got a point, and he's sympathetic. . . to a degree. But he also has access to something true. And he also pays a price.

Audiences should come to see this play, Boyd said because "Besides being funny, amazing, surprising and full of some of the best R-rated language around -- it's a play with great humanity alongside the great humor. And it tells us that the miraculous can happen, which I like being reminded of. 'At the darkest time' says McPherson, 'there can still be hope, light and energy flowing in.' "

The Seafarer begins previews Friday, April 6, opens Wednesday, April 11 and runs through Sunday, April 29 on the Hubbard Stage of the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For ticket information, go to alleytheatre.org or call 713-220-5700.


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Alley Theatre

615 Texas Ave., Houston, TX

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