I’m just wondering if Ben Brantley and I saw the same show. He loved The Seafarer. I was so bored I nearly fell asleep. At first I thought the play was just starting off slowly, but then it just kept going. And going. And going….nowhere.
I guess when you spend most of your theater-going life downtown watching complicated, non-narrative, non-traditional theatre, you get to used to a certain level of engagement and intricacy. You lose your taste for being spoon-fed obvious pap. Jay-zus, another Irish play about working class drunks. There’s a shocker. With heavy-handed Christ imagery and Catholic themes. Wow. Whodathunkit? Never saw that coming. Nope. (It is possible to do something that is deeply Irish but not totally cliche. Or that plays on those cliches, see Mark Doherty’s Trad.)
And the big disappointment of it is that McPherson is obviously a good writer. There are these small flashes of really great stuff – Satan’s description of the tortures of Hell is fantastic. But mostly this show raised the question I think of much too often these days, especially when I go to the big theaters: “Why didn’t they just make it a television show”?