In Conor McPherson's Port Authority, which opened last night at the Atlantic Theater Company in Chelsea, three interlocking monologues, delivered by three generations of Irishmen, converge with striking resonance, as they describe their hopes, fears and failures.
The youngest of the three, Kevin (John Gallagher, Jr.), has just come off a disastrous attempt to move out of his parents' home. He's moved in with a group of friends. The eldest in McPherson's comedy-laced play is Joe (Jim Norton), who's remembering the early years of his marriage, thanks to a package that he's received at the retirement home where he now lives. The middle-aged member of the trio, Dermot (Brian D'Arcy James), shares perhaps the most heartbreaking of the three stories, relating the unfortunate details of a new job offer that he recently accepted.
McPherson, a consummate storyteller, weaves these three men's tales together across their generational divides in surprising and ingenious ways (although in one instance, how a crossover between the histories is never fully explained). More impressively though, the men's stories echo one another thematically in delicate ways. By the time the piece, running just under an hour and a half, ends, we've learned how that no matter what the men's ages, they've all experienced, for instance, the exhilaration and fear attendant on new love.
As with one enmeshment between stories that goes unresolved, it's never clear why the three men are all in a train or bus station (represented in Takeshi Kata's spare scenic design by a single large wooden bench). Somehow though, thanks to the invaluable contributions of lighting designer Matthew Richards and sound designer Bart Fasbender, the location where the men are first discovered becomes unimportant. Through gentle shifts in the lighting and soundscape, we're transported to a variety of locations in Ireland and even into the U.S.
Under Henry Wishcamper's sure-handed direction, the trio of actors delivers beautifully nuanced performances. Gallagher, late of Spring Awakening, is almost unrecognizable as the angst-ridden scruffy teen from the Irish hinterlands. Norton imbues the eldest of the trio with a general goodwill and sort of impishness that charms. Most impressive is James, who downplays Dermot's working-class background crassness, making him endearing rather than grossly harsh.
Ultimately, Port Authority compels with its powerful blend of storytelling and performance.
Port Authority plays at Atlantic Theatre Company's Linda Gross theater (336 West 20th Street). Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2 and 8pm; and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $55.00 and can be purchased by calling 212-279-4200. Further information is available online at: www.AtlanticTheater.org.
|« ATW Review: 'The Visit'|