Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boozy View of a Troubled Isle; THEATRE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boozy View of a Troubled Isle; THEATRE

Article excerpt

Byline: LUCY POWELL

The Seafarer

National Theatre SE1 ****

THE Ireland that Conor McPherson conjures up is a toe-curlingly terrifying place. Encrusted with an age-old, archaeological filth, it swims in an ocean of booze, in which a dangerous undertow of bad and violent blood eddies. It's the kind of place where the devil himself might make an unscheduled appearance for a game of poker and a glass of the hard stuff.

But the magic of McPherson's mesmerising play is that it's also the kind of place where even the devil might have trouble winning a hand. Despite the horrors of alcoholism he unflinchingly unearths, The Seafarer remains an improbable, aching love-song to a troubled island. Besides Ron Cook's squeakily-shod Lockhart, the ragtag assortment of poker players are equally bruised by life, chief among them Karl Johnson's monotonal, crumpled Sharky.

Jim Norton is almost too comfortable in the blind drunk slippers of Richard, Sharky's bully of a brother, and Conleth Hill delivers a near flawless performance as the mournful Ivan. …

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