The Night Alive

Main Stage West
Runs in Sebastopol through Oct. 28, 2018

Anthony Abaté and John Craven
Photo by Ilana Niernberger

Irish playwright Conor McPherson, called “quite possibly the best playwright of his generation” and a “true poet” of the theatre, is noted for plays featuring believable, ordinary folk mired in difficult circumstances, working-class stiffs barely getting by and struggling with life’s challenges, and plots infused with a pervasive malevolence. Yet his plays famously are also touched with the extraordinary—a radiant sense of something unnameable, something larger than ourselves that pulls towards redemption, reducing the struggles to bearable noise. His 2013 New York Drama Critics Circle Best Play The Night Alive has that luminous redemptive edge in spades, especially in the glowing, exceptional production currently gracing the stage in Sebastopol at Main Stage West.

Tommy (Anthony Abaté) is already in his fifties, but still hasn’t managed to find his way, subsisting on random odd jobs and living in a room in his uncle Maurice’s house. We see in the shabby room the detritus of a man’s meager existence—scattered clothes, accumulated trash and newspapers, mismatched crude furnishings, a makeshift sink and tiny toilet room. At opening, Tommy has stepped out for fish and chips but returns with a young woman nursing a punched nose. Aimee (Ivy Rose Miller) insists the man who punched her was not her boyfriend, but Tommy is skeptical. He offers her tea and a place to sleep if she needs it, assuring her he’s different and would never hit a woman.

Tommy’s erstwhile odd-job partner Doc (Kevin Bordi) arrives and becomes upset over Aimee’s possible interference in his dependence on Tommy—Doc sometimes sleeps on Tommy’s spare cot when his sister’s boyfriend kicks him out. He also claims to be disabled, and Tommy explains his mind is always five to ten minutes behind everyone else. …

To continue reading about this production, see the full review at Talkin’ Broadway:
The Night Alive