All aboard for The Seafarer at Athlone Little Theatre

Gripping drama, hilarious dialogue, and scary supernatural elements are just some of the rich mix on offer at Athlone Little Theatre towards the end of this month, as the group launches one of the first ever amateur productions of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer at the theatre in St Mary’s Place. The play opens on Friday February 25.

Conor McPherson is justly feted as probably Ireland’s most talented emerging playwright, and The Seafarer is arguably his strongest work to date. Critics have hailed this latest play from the author of The Weir and Port Authority as proving that McPherson is “quite possibly the finest playwright of his generation”, according to the legendary Ben Bradley of the New York Times.

What a treat is in store for local audiences, as this incredible play comes to town.

Part ghost story, part rollicking comedy, The Seafarer revolves around a group of hard drinking Dublin men and the eerie visitor who comes to their party on Christmas eve. You will never think of card games in quite the same way again as a plot of delicate and devilish subtlety unfolds.

Sharky Harkin has lived a life largely composed of booze and misfortune. Having left his latest job as chauffeur to a property developer, he’s back in Dublin, trying to care for his blind brother Richard while at the same time kicking the booze.

The problem, however, is that it’s Christmas Eve, and Richard and their friends Ivan and Nicky are determined to drink their brains out. They also bring along to the seasonal card game a sinister figure from Sharky’s past. The future course of Sharky’s life, indeed his very soul, will all hinge on what unfolds as he locks horns with the menacing Lockhart.

The Seafarer is simply an experience that has to be seen to be believed. The play has been justly hailed as by far McPherson’s funniest to date, but there are so many elements in an extremely rich text. Blink and you’ll miss something as Athlone Little Theatre undertakes one of the most ambitious productions in its history.

For this exciting undertaking, director Paddy Martin has been fortunate to assemble an all male cast featuring some of the most talented actors in local theatre. Ronan Flynn, Jason Gill, John McGlynn, Clive Darling, and Paul Slevin combine for some wonderful ensemble performances. The Seafarer also features an incredibly detailed set constructed by Dermot McManus and Work it Out Ireland. This amazing piece of design simply has to be seen to be believed, and along with the play itself, marks an important new departure for Athlone Little Theatre.

Backstage organisation and continuity in a hugely challenging production are in the hands of stage managers Bernadette Naughton and Mildred Henehan, and lighting manager Anne Foy, and there are few plays in which the old maxim that everything depends on the cooperation of those in front and behind the stage has held more true.

This is a play that is certain to generate huge interest and even controversy. It will be talked about for many a long year and you owe it to yourselves to see at first hand what all the fuss is about. The Seafarer also contains strong language (is there any McPherson play that doesn’t? ) and audience discretion is advised.

This enthralling new production opens at the Little Theatre on Friday February 25 running until the following Friday March 4.

For more information or bookings call (090 ) 6474324.

 

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