Through March 25|
THE NIGHT ALIVE Irish Classical Theatre Company/Andrews Theatre
Low lifes turning into lower lifes, that’s Conor McPherson’s “The Night Alive,” a look at denizens of the underworld in Dublin, psychologically far from the tourists.
Tommy (Brian Mysliwy) runs scams and burglaries with the help of Doc (Kevin Craig), who may be mentally slower than Tommy.
Tommy lives in Maurice’s (Vincent O’Neill) house.
He’s some kind of connection with the younger man, remembering Tommy as a little boy.
Now, he’s very old and failing, having just buried his wife.
Tommy’s below-the-radar life begins to fall apart when he brings Aimee (Cassie Gorniewicz) into his home after breaking up a fight with some guy which has left her badly beaten and bleeding.
She’s very vague about what happened and that should have been a clue.
It should also have been a clue to Tommy that Aimee doesn’t have a problem being involved with a criminal and a low-level bad guy.
Aimee also doesn’t have a problem even entering a flat which seems to have been cleaned when Sean O’Casey was still writing and some of the food isn’t fit for people.
It’s a great set from Paul Bostaph.
What holds together this so-so story is a very strong cast and Brian Cavanagh’s direction.
Once again with a show, it’s Brian Mysliwy at the core.
He can make any script better.
O’Neill’s Maurice is a frequently fleeting character in this tale of Dublin’s Underworld, blithely avoiding the issue of Tommy and Doc’s line of work while trying to extend a rapidly-shortening life.
He also comes close to stealing the stage, no matter who is on it.
Clearly, McPherson wants us to like Tommy, to like a guy who has been stomped by life and is doing his best to surmount his problems.
Instead, he’s a guy who has dug a pit for himself and is happily digging it deeper.
Oh, Doc is just a guy who can’t handle much of real life or real employment and sees Tommy as a source of easy income.
That’s kind of a criminal way to look at things since the Gardai are looking for Tommy because they have a description of his van and his license plate number heading away from a burglary.
He does have enough sense to warn Tommy about Aimee, but who can listen while in the full flower of compassion and lust.
There’s also Kenneth (Adam Yellen), a “hard man” who arrives on the scene, knowing Aimee and something about her.
He’s a good hard man because he doesn’t show off.
The hard guys I’ve known oozed tough without showing off.
He’s Aimee’s punishment for a hard and bad life.
“The Night Alive” is a fascinating mix of marginal script by a well-known writer and a really strong production.
The story will make you uncomfortable and occasionally weird, as the tale unfolds.
What makes the show worth seeing are those performances from O’Neill and Mysliwy, although you have to know going in that the production features a mix of bad and worse guys.
If you want comedy, “The Night Alive” isn’t it, but if you are looking for a couple of really interesting performances this is it.
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