Friday, December 07, 2007

After Seeing, Faring With Critics

After Seeing, Faring With Critics

Last evening, Conor McPherson's third Broadway play The Seafarer opened at the Booth Theatre. After receiving critical acclaim across the pond, as well as Olivier Award recognition for actor Jim Norton, how did the production fare after critics saw it? Overall, pretty well.

Praising the cast's "gorgeous, vitally intelligent performances," Ben Brantley of The New York Times offers raves: "Directed by Mr. McPherson, one of the finest ensembles to grace a Broadway stage in years uncovers the soul-defining clarity within the drunkard’s haze....[I]t tingles with its author’s acute and authentic sense of what is knowable and unknowable in life....You don’t have to believe in it to be moved by it."

Calling The Seafarer "fitfully profound," Eric Grode of The New York Sun is mostly positive: "Mr. McPherson...settles in as a director whenever he allows himself a chance to hand off a few pages of dialogue to one of his five talented performers....The interactions among the five actors, however, are considerably less fluid and sometimes even selfish. Mr. McPherson sees to it that each actor gets his laughs and/or shudders, but often at the expense of cohesion. Mr. Mahon's unctuous chiseler is the personification of knockoff cologne, while Mr. Norton (who won the Olivier Award during the play's initial London run) stirs up an enjoyable ruckus."

Lauding it for being "a remarkably humane play," Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press also cites what he sees as an excellent cast: "The magnetic (Ciarán) Hinds portrays this dapper intruder with an urbane, if sinister charm, carefully concealing his real motives for showing up. Those motives push the play to its surprise, if slightly contrived, ending. The play takes its time setting up that surprise. Until then, McPherson allows us to revel in an all-male world of alcohol-fueled friendships, relationships that are equal parts bravado and insecurity."

"A moody new work," is how Joe Dziemianowicz of New York's Daily News describes the play in his mostly positive review: "McPherson's modern fable is laced with liquor and men battling personal demons. The script shows deep understanding of those who desperately long for connection and need redemption....Seafarer has its faults. The first half is slow and mostly exposition. McPherson, who also directs, uses a contrived device, twice, so Sharky and Lockhart can talk one-on-one. But the superlative acting balances things out. Together, the five actors form a winning hand."

Labeling it an "imperfect but beguiling new work," Variety's David Rooney offers a mostly upbeat assessment: "What's perhaps less expected is the expertise McPherson shows in the physical production, smoothly negotiating Rae Smith's split-level set -- so grimy and dank with age and neglect, it's almost pungent -- to keep the single-setting play lively. He also choreographs seemingly endless variations on inebriation from the actors, whose agile work flirts frequently with slapstick while remaining rooted in realistic behavior....[T]here's much to savor here in the vividly alive character details and fully inhabited performances....Best of all is Norton."

Concluding that "the play never lives up to the expectation of its premise," New York Post's Clive Barnes offers just two and a half stars: "The writing is standard issue Irish-playwright whiskey-sodden banter -- very good of its quick interweaving, miasmic kind - and the characters are odd enough to be diverting company for a couple of hours....McPherson's staging goes at a nicely galloping pace, and the acting throughout is excellent....[T]he ever-amazing Conleth as amazing as ever."

Will these reviews help The Seafarer fare well at the box office? Perhaps, but if you act now, you can get seats for as little as $26.50 by clicking here.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Seafarer Opens Sail On Great White Way Tonight (December 6, 2007)
All Of Great White Way Gleams Tonight (November 29, 2007)
Add August To The List? (November 14, 2007)
Strike Fallout, Part Two? Opening Nights In Question (November 12, 2007)
McPherson's Seafarer To Navigate Broadway In Fall (June 14, 2007)
Sunday At The Grosvenor House With Laurence (February 19, 2007)
Laurence Olivier Award Nominations Announced (January 18, 2007)

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At 08 December, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not selling well
its a shame.. A good show
check it out

At 08 December, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I'm hoping to get to the show in short order.


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