Thursday, February 19, 2009

Seafarer at Steppenwolf

I saw the Seafarer on Tuesday night. I am now going to have to read everything Conor McPherson ever wrote. It was certainly a matter of having fallen upon this excellent production of a play at just the right time in my life, but this thing got my face wet near the end. When one brother turns to the other and consoles him with "It's alright. You're Alive"... I dripped a single manly tear (wink). If you're on the fence about this one, I say go!

Much better than Xanadu


Don Hall said...

Better than Xanadu? Heresy!

isaac butler said...

Man, I think I'm the only one who doesn't like this play. I don't mean the production- obviously, I didn't see it, I saw the Broadway one- but the script. For me, it felt like a 90 minute play stretched to 2.5 hours with pointless blather about soda cans. It's dialogue about nothing. it's entertaining, I guess, but ultimately chock full of pointless bloat.

I think blather is a really serious problem facing contemporary theatre. The first act of Craig Wright's LADY is taken up with conversations about iPOD playlists for fuck's sake. That's not drama. In art, we're supposed to boil things down to their essence and then magnify that essence. I'm all for digression, hyper-verbality and maximalism but this isn't that, it's just meandering Seinfeldianism.

And the overt Christian messaging of the end gave me the fantods.

Barry Rowell said...

The Seafarer was my first exposure to McPherson and I agree: I was blown away by the script and his directing of the production here in NYC (damn him for being so damned talented!).

Devilvet said...

Yes better than Xanadu, and for an extra 20 bucks you can sit in on the poker game on stage.


You know I am with you when it comes to the length. I suppose it could have been shorter, and not lost too much. It wasn't until afterward that it all worked for me. I'd be lying though if I didnt say that somewhere around 35-40 minutes into act one... I'm like 'ok when is something going to happen. Once it did happen though I was won over.

Any overt Christian messaging didnt bother me too much. It was a story about second chances... layered with some metaphysical decor. It was a story about Catholics wrestling with the characters that populate their beliefs. At least this production... there was a presence but not too much over the head come to jesus, joseph, and mary.

Chill out on those fantods (wink).


Dude, miss you Catherine. I got to try to get to NYC for a weekend and see you all...maybe around Fringe time.

isaac butler said...

To be fair w/r/t the Xian messaging bit, I think one reading (not the only reading of course) of the play is as an overt allegory for the process of recovery from Substances,a process McPherson entered into right before writing the play (this is, we're told, the first play he's written since going sober). In that sense, the very end of the play is about submission to a Higher Power after hitting bottom, and I find it a little more justifiable and a little less queasy.

One of the not-as-documented challenges about going sober is that your past misdeeds haunt you (or so I'm told by my friends who have gone through the process) and that shame can drive you to substances all over again. It's part of the Disease, and here's it's represented quite literally as the devil.

It's also (rather slyly) a Christmas story, and it's hard to have those without a little divine intervention.


I actually found the staging problematic, particularly the scene where they're all playing cards, staged with the whole cast facing the audience. While necessary for sight lines, it totally brought me out of the play. The whole show seemed played with the actors facing straight out. Kinda a bummer for a play chock full of interpersonal relationships, but given McPherson's background in monologue-based-plays, perhaps unsurprising.

Nathan R said...

I'm a big fan of chopping away unecessaries out of a script (when workshopping - not an established piece). And while THE SEAFARER was long, I felt the banter was worthwhile to get me on board with these characters.

Sometimes just witnessing a slice of life, no matter how mundane, is enough to make an audience empathize once it all hits the fan.

With that being said, the play didn't do as much for me as I hoped it would. It was well done with a few seemingly amateurish missteps for the Steppenwolf. But it's not going to stick with me for years to come like some Steppenwolf shows have.

Devilvet said...

I can totally see the substance read. For me (due to some personal shit) It resonated about other things, but the substance thing is right there. For me something happened when the glasses were found and we got four aces. Call it intervention, dumb luck, second chance. It was the reprieve received by a character whom I had come to care for over the course of the show. It is that reprieve that spoke to me.