Honest Pint Theatre Co. and North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre’s joint production of The Night Alive by Irish playwright and screenwriter Conor McPherson, which is playing now through Feb. 26th at NRACT, is a kind of nihilist joke. “What is the purpose of life if we keep on making the same mistakes?” director Susannah Hough asks us in her director’s note for this show. It is a rhetorical question, no doubt; and after laughing through the suffering of these five characters, audience members may be given pause to consider such a question.
The story focuses on five souls disconnected from the social fabric — five souls who, while perhaps lost, nonetheless seek connection with a larger reality. It suggests that the rhetorical question for each of us in this world of seven billion human souls is “Where do I fit into humankind” We are all coping with that same question.
First and foremost, The Night Alive is the vehicle for superior actors to display the depth and breadth of their disciplines. John Allore plays Tommy, a slovenly, charming ne’er-do-well who picks his way through life doing odd jobs, and wreaks chaos in the room that he rents in his uncle’s house. That there is a streak of altruism in him is shown in his entrance.
Tommy brings the young, sometime-prostitute Aimee (Samantha Corey), who has just been beaten up by her pimp (Sean Brosnahan), into his slipshod, cluttered room. Allore’s performance is ballet-like, skipping lightly physically within the room and bouncing from topic to topic with a subtly poetic, Irish rhythm.
Honest Pint Theatre Co.) founder and artistic director David Henderson plays Doc, Tommy’s part-time assistant in the odd-job trade. Doc is a slow-witted lovable sort, just the kind of man that Tommy would have as a sidekick. As always, Henderson gives a stellar performance, showing a reserved sensitivity for Tommy and for Aimee, which makes us warm to him.
Samantha Corey’s Aimee is street-wise and naive at once, with the carefree humor of a young girl, and the skills of a lady-of-the night. Sean Brosnahan plays Aimee’s boyfriend/pimp Kenneth with a cold, psychotic range, greatly enjoying his power to suddenly become monstrous in the midst of what appears to be concern and empathy. He’s as scary as he should be.
Tommy’s forbearing uncle Maurice is played by Mark Phialas, who brings to the role the crankiness of a lonely old widower, and the heart of a family member feeling obliged, treating Tommy almost like a wayward son.
Director Susannah Hough moves her characters nicely through the minefield that Tommy’s digs have become, as well as the minefield of the plot, with a driving sense of expectation. And speaking of the minefield of Tommy’s apartment, production designer Thomas Mauney has created a veritable obstacle course for these performers to negotiate (including the All in the Family recurring loud toilet flush gag).
Properties designer Amy Massey has filled Thomas Mauney’s set with all sorts of mines to be avoided and stepped over, and dozens of filled garbage bags to be moved thither and yon. Dialect coach Ben Curns has provided the cast with authentic-sounding Irish brogues that do not jar us, but suggest Ireland rather than trying to immerse us there.
Thanks to costume designer Laura Parker, the characters look as if they themselves chose their garb; and their costumes help give insight to their personalities.
This show runs through the 26th of February, and we highly recommend it.
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 16th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article133161149.html; and Feb. 8th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-night-alive/Event?oid=5103885. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Feb. 16th Triangle Review review by Pamela Vesper and Kurt Benrud, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/02/the-night-alive-is-an-engaging-night-at-nract/.)
Honest Pint Theatre Co. and North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre present THE NIGHT ALIVE at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 and 18, 3 p.m. Feb. 19, and 8 p.m. Feb. 24 and 25 at 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Food Lion Shopping Center.
BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228, email@example.com, or http://www.nract.org/shows/#/tickets/.
SHOW: http://www.honestpinttheatre.org/the-night-alive-ensemble, http://www.nract.org/shows/#/thenightalive/, and https://www.facebook.com/events/231533600589477/.
Honest Pint Theatre Co.: http://www.honestpinttheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/honestpinttheatrecompany, https://twitter.com/honestpintthe8r, and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9jvpkyjZ1mzZGy1t3BV8mQ.
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre: http://www.nract.org/, https://www.facebook.com/NRACT, and https://twitter.com/NRACT.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19th, performance.
The Night Alive (2013 West End and Off-Broadway play): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=4894 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), https://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/conor-mcpherson/work/the-night-alive (Curtis Brown page), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/5694 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Night_Alive (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Conor McPherson (Irish playwright and screenwriter): https://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/conor-mcpherson (Curtis Brown bio), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/3504 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/conor-mcpherson-4900 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0574217/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conor_McPherson (Wikipedia).
Susannah Hough (director): https://www.facebook.com/susannahhough (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.