Fine acting, robust story unfolds in ‘The Seafarer’

An incredible cast comes together to perform “The Seafarer,” a show that hints at the value of family connections and the need to forgive those around us. Playwright Conor McPherson’s rousing drama runs through Dec. 13 at The Lyceum Theatre.

Set in a Dublin bungalow, the play unfolds on blind Richard Harkin who lives with his brother Sharky (Ron Choularton), an alcoholic on the wagon. Tensions between the brothers arise quickly. Richard makes demands on Sharky to be his fetch-and-get-it caregiver, while Sharky is not willing to take on that role.

Armin Shimerman (“I Remember Mamma,” “King Lear”) said he wanted the role of the Devil in the play, but instead, he is superb in the ambitious role of Richard. He fills Richard’s mood swings with exactly the right emotion; upset when Sharky doesn’t “jump,” and in a festive mood when friends show up to play their annual Christmas Eve game of poker.

Sharky is not up for this as things have changed since last year. His girlfriend Eileen is now Nicky’s (Robert J. Townsend) girlfriend, and he wants nothing to do with Nicky. Choularton is perfect as the hot-tempered work-horse one moment, and the sympathetic and caring brother the next.

Ivan (Paul James Kruse) is another drunk who doesn’t have the desire to go home and face his wife, so it’s on to another bottle of booze. Everyone settles down when Mr. Lockhart (Rep Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse), aka the devil, arrives with Nicky.

Lockhart appears in a fine-tailored coat and suit, carrying an expensive bottle of booze. As they begin their poker game, it becomes clear that Sharky and Lockhart have some unfinished business to attend to.

The actors are astounding. They create an authentic scene of five rowdy men glossing over past pleasures and confronting the present and the future. The wonderful script is a like a roller coaster ride with poker excitement and hilarious laughs at one moment, and fists swinging the next.

The more the men get caught up in the hoopla of the holiday, they less they notice how mysterious their odd-man-out really is.

“This play is a superior piece of writing,” said Woodhouse. “I really wanted to be able to play the ultimate bad guy.”

And indeed, Woodhouse is enigmatic and highly intriguing in his solid performance. “The Seafarer” is definitely for adults who enjoy sincere performances and a few laughs as well.

‘The Seafarer’

When: Through Dec. 13

Where: The San Diego Repertory Theatre, Lyceum Theater, Horton Plaza

Tickets: $27-47

(619) 544-1000