Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
It's Christmas Eve in a suburb of Dublin, in the shabby house where the Harkin brothers, James or "Sharky" (Chris Genebach) and Richard (Marty Lodge), grew up. Scenic designer Andrew R. Cohen has packed a lot of specific character into this multi-level set: above a fireplace, a shadow on the wall where a large picture once hung; a patch of roughly repaired wall plaster; Catholic images on a side table; and several framed ads for different brands of liquor. Sharky had been working elsewhere in Ireland, but returned home to help Richard after he was blinded in an accident. Still, some traditions must go on, and the brothers are going to welcome the holiday with their annual all-night poker game.
Soon the guests arrive: Ivan Curry (Michael Glenn), a sweetly befuddled man with an overbearing (offstage) wife and a missing pair of glasses, and Nicky Giblin (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh), a supposed financial big shot who is, inconveniently, now romantically involved with Sharky's ex-wife. However, Nicky has brought along Mr. Lockhart (Marcus Kyd), a circumspect man in a well-tailored suit, a seeming stranger who knows more about the others than he is prepared to admit. Ivania Stack's costume designs cleverly reveal who among the men cares about projecting status and who just wants to get through the day.
Director Ryan Rilette, also the company's artistic director, has guided these five actors to performances that may at times seem overly broad but also are subtle, even subliminal, in their detail. Each of these men, even the largely unflappable Lockhart, is dealing with some form of trauma or guilt: Sharky, for example, has left a job under circumstances he doesn't want to discuss, while Nicky, ostensibly the most successful of the men, pathetically shows off with his clothes and his opinions. They all enjoy the pleasure of storytelling (along with the pleasure of alcohol) and their reminiscences make up a generous part of the play.
The Seafarer runs through December 31, 2023, at Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda MD. For tickets and information, please call 240-644-1100 or visit www.roundhousetheatre.org.
By Conor McPherson