Opened 28 Sep 2006
Written: Conor McPherson
Directed: Conor McPherson
Produced: National Theatre
Cast: Ron Cook (Mr Lockhart), Conleth Hill (Ivan Curry), Karl Johnson (James 'Sharky' Harkin), Jim Norton (Richard Harkin), Michael McElhatton (Nicky Giblin)
Synopsis: It’s Christmas Eve and Sharky has returned to Dublin to look after his irascible, ageing brother who’s recently gone blind. Old drinking buddies Ivan and Nicky are holed up at the house too, hoping to play some cards. But with the arrival of a stranger from the distant past, the stakes are raised ever higher. In fact, Sharky may be playing for his very soul…
What the critics had to say.....
NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Compelling...meticulously-wrought production, the finest ensemble acting in town." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Sparkling and suspenseful new play." KATE BASSETT for THE INDEPENDENT says, "This is like The Birthday Party crossed with Faust too. Yet it is also a hilarious, spooky and delving play about living hells, drying out, despair and hope. The superb cast includes Jim Norton as a horribly demanding invalid, Karl Johnson as his desolate brother, a comically lurching Conleth Hill and Ron Cook as the predatory, smirking Lockhart." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "There’s some fine writing here and...some excellent acting. But there are doubts. Doesn’t the author, who also directs, take inordinate time evoking this boozy, crazy household? Isn’t the diabolic intrusion a bit over the top? And couldn’t he tell us more about Sharkey’s sin and its effect on the man himself? Johnson’s pinched, arid face and uneasy body language reveal a lot, but a few more lines might clarify and maybe deepen the picture...Still, I laughed, became increasingly absorbed, and ended up impressed by McPherson’s originality." JOHN THAXTER for THE STAGE says, "Making his brilliant National Theatre debut as author and director, Conor McPherson’s new play powerfully recalls Pinter’s The Homecoming with its grim all-male household dominated by a stick-wielding bully in an armchair."
Production photo by Catherine Ashmore