The Night Alive at the Linda Gross
Conor McPherson’s latest theater piece The Night Alive opens this Thursday at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater in New York City’s Chelsea District. Founded in 1985 by renowned director David Mamet and actor William H. Macy, the company produces primarily artistic themed off-broadway theater; past work includes productions by Martin McDonagh, Woody Allen and Harold Pinter.
McPherson’s play revolves around five people entering and exiting a frankly unkempt front room in an Irish home. Occupied by Tommy, and occasionally his friend Doc, the male dynamic in the front of Maurice’s (Tommy’s uncle/landlord) house changes when Aimee enters with a broken nose, given by her boyfriend Kenneth. The five characters soon find themselves uncomfortably bound not only by a dreary corner room, but by the inevitable human emotions that naturally occur over time.
Though placed in a dirty setting, the stage of The Night Alive is organized with perfect clutter. The misty daylight and dingy low lights of Tommy’s room only aid surface production. McPherson finds trouble in making his theme – the serendipitous weaving of time – into graceful lucidity. While the emphasis of the disheveled social order is intentional, it makes for an unclear goal. The Irish playwright/director is fortunate, though, to have a cast who fully understand his thesis. Ciarin Hinds (Tommy), who has lent his talents to the Harry Potter films, HBO’s Game of Thrones, and Disney’s Frozen, manages unscrupulousness to a new height. Caoilfhionn Dunne (Aimee) subtly stings during her presence onstage, allowing for the most apparent – and well crafted – character transformation. The show is happily buttressed by Michael Mcelhatton as Doc, Jim Norton as Maurice, and Brian Gleeson as Kenneth. These periphery characters add as much comedy as they do fear to the play – welcome necessities.
The Night Alive is a very Irish play with humor, woe, and thematic ambiguity. It does not succeed in achieving the lofty aims is strives for, but wins with a chillingly comfortable atmosphere and strong performances.
The Night Alive runs from November 30th – January 26th at Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater at 336 West 20th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenue, for further information or to book visit here.