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REVIEW: The Seafarer at Richmond Hill Players

Richmond Hill Players

There’s an Irish proverb that goes like this: “May misfortune follow you the rest of your life, and never catch up.” Unfortunately for Sharkey Harkin, his luck appears to have run out. Such is his fate when the Devil himself catches up with him in Richmond Hill Players current production of The Seafarer by Conor McPherson and directed by Justin Raver. Full disclosure: as I write this review Raver is in Savannah, Georgia celebrating at my son’s bachelor party as Best Man.

The play explores the themes of regret, family, substance abuse and ghosts both real and supernatural. It won the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2006 and subsequently was nominated for several Tony’s after its Broadway debut.

 The plot revolves around Sharkey who has lost his current job due to alcoholism. He has returned home purportedly to care for his recently blinded brother, Richard. In fact, Sharkey has a reputation for drunken violence, and this is just his most recent failure.

 We meet them on Christmas Eve along with Richard’s long-time friend, Ivan, after a night of heavy drinking by Richard and Ivan. Sharkey is trying to stay sober over the holiday. Tempers flare later that evening between the brothers when Sharkey’s long-time rival, Nicky, shows up bringing with him a stranger, Mr. Lockhart.

 It turns out that Lockhart has been looking for Sharkey to settle an old debt, that being Sharkey’s very soul which he sold to Lockhart during a poker game to escape the consequences of killing a vagrant in a drunken rage 25 years prior. Lockhart is literally hell-bent on collecting.

Four out of this five-member cast are long time RHP veterans. Heading them up as the hapless Sharkey is Matthew McConville, as the loquacious, kissed-the-Blarney-Stone-one-too-many-times, Richard, is Gary Talsky, as Ivan is Patrick Kelley and as Lockhart is Bruce Carmen. Rounding out the cast as Nicky is newcomer, Bobby Metcalf. All five bring in solid performances and they ALL earn 5 gold stars for their flawless Irish accents. The apex of the show was Carmen’s delivery of Lockhart’s chilling description of hell, and this is also the best performance I’ve seen Kelley portray.

While this production is very well performed, what could have taken it even higher would have been a stronger underpinning of the sinister tension between Lockhart and Sharkey to heighten the tension. Also, Talsky’s blindness was a bit inconsistent. There were times he reached for things or set things down without a little groping to be sure where it was. I also would have like to see better masking of the backstage area at the doorways.

While this show is set at Christmas, it will give you plenty of chills for Halloween.

The Seafarer continues at Richmond Hill Players in Geneseo Thursday through Saturday, October 12 through 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 15 at 3:00 p.m.

I’m Chris Hicks…break a leg.