Theater Preview: THE SEAFARER (Laguna Playhouse)

by Frank Arthur on October 19, 2018

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


“He knows not
Who lives most easily on land, how I
Have spent my winter on the ice-cold sea
Wretched and anxious, in the paths of exile
Lacking dear friends, hung round by icicles
While hail flew past in showers…”

From the medieval poem The Seafarer translated by Richard Hamer

Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer is another of his cathartic plays that allow him to purge his personal battle against alcoholism. (The Irish playwright has been dry for more than 15 years.) He paints contemporary Irish life wherein men use the act of drinking as a male bonding ritual and a means of companionship. Heavy drinking is a reality escape and a self-loathing act of loneliness and isolation. McPherson inherits the theme from other Irish playwrights such as Sean O’Casey, Brendan Behan, Eugene O’Neill, Brian Friel, and Martin McDonagh — all of whom place drinking as an act of hopelessly desperate and shameful souls. With The Seafarer, Conor McPherson establishes himself among the elite of living playwrights; this is an outstanding play filled with dark humor and loads of pathos.

Opening this Sunday, Oct. 21, and running through Nov. 4, 2018, Laguna Playhouse presents The Seafarer, the third show in its terrific 98th season, with the perfect show for Halloween, the perfect cast, and the perfect director, Michael Matthews (Cabaret, Laguna’s End of the Rainbow).

It’s Christmas Eve in a small coastal village north of Dublin, and Sharky (JD Cullum) has returned to look after his irascible, aging brother (John Vickery) who’s recently gone blind. As Sharky attempts to stay off the bottle during the holidays, he contends with old drinking buddies Ivan (Michael A. Shepperd) and Nicky (John Colella), who are holed up at the house too, hoping to play some cards. With the arrival of a stranger (Stephen Caffrey) from the distant past, the stakes are raised ever higher and Sharky may be playing for his very soul.

McPherson has written this clever allegory with elements of suspense and wicked wit, creating a stark portrait of the estrangement resulting from a life dominated by alcohol. The Seafarer is an excellent heartfelt comic drama filled with quirky characters. Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham said, “I’ve looked forward to producing this play for 10 years and the moment has arrived. An exceptional cast, an extraordinary director and a play that is funny, chilling, and a perfectly spooky Irish ghost story for the season.”

photos by Ed Krieger

The Seafarer
Laguna Playhouse
606 Laguna Canyon Drive in Laguna Beach
ends on November 4, 2018
for tickets, call 949.497.2787
or visit Laguna Playhouse

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