THEATER | DANCE | CLASSICAL MUSIC | OPERA | COMEDY

NORTH TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS NEWS

REVIEWS

<em>The Night Alive</em>&nbsp;at Undermain Theatre

Review: The Night Alive | Undermain Theatre


Cosmic Thing

At Undermain Theatre, Conor McPherson's The Night Alive is alive with nimble wordplay and marvelous lyricism.



published Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Photo: Katherine Owens
The Night Alive at Undermain Theatre

 

Dallas — A man helps a bloody-faced girl into his dark, rented room that only a moment before held a silhouetted figure among its huddled messes. What feels like a tender thriller, if there is such a thing, turns slapstick momentarily as the coin-fed electric meter runs out and the darkness returns.

What’s going on?

It’s best not to take the measure of anything at Undermain Theatre too early. And that goes doubly for the regional premiere of The Night Alive by Conor McPherson.

You might think that someone is flicking channels as the tones flip from tense and mysterious to light and frivolous and then to brooding despair, but really it’s just director Dylan Key’s gentle hand allowing the playwright to dance through some sort of Irish collective unconscious. With Bruce DuBose anchoring the evening as Tommy, a middle-aged, down-and-out Dublin everyman, the wisps of want and why swirl by in this thoroughly watchable sitcom dream.

How otherworldly playwright McPherson wants to go isn’t clear until, at the end of Act I, he turns it sharply into a nightmare (to be fair, Elm street isn’t far away). Marcus Stimac is perfectly possessed here, really hammering the character home and sending the audience into a stunned intermission.

Photo: Katherine Owens
The Night Alive at Undermain Theatre

The plot is deceptively down to earth. Tommy lives in one room of the house of his Uncle Maurice (Gordon Fox). Having left his wife and teenage children, he survives on odd jobs with an even odder helper, Doc (Scott Latham). Tommy rescues Aimee (Katherine Bourne) from a bloke, Kenneth (Stimac), and allows her to kip on the camp bed. The Irish accents are thick and engaging except where they disappear altogether. Outside of the extraordinary tonal shifts and some creative wordplay this might pass as a grittier Agatha Christie evening, but the playwright has his hand on more cosmic strings.

It’s easy to discount Doc’s prattling, but you’d do so at your own peril. Introduced as intellectually lagging, he functions as a Stan Laurel spiritual savant, reminding the characters of the relative delicacy of this reality. As ballast to Doc, Maurice seems mired in the accumulated disappointments of a fully lived life. Maybe Doc doesn’t see things just for what they are, but Maurice sees them all-too clearly. These two opposing views on the ordinary orbit around the central couple of Tommy and Aimee. Given the circumstances surrounding them, it’s hard to see how they could work. Given the lyrical nature of the play, it’s hard not to hope they will.

And that’s the brilliance of the production: hope, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Crucial to the effort is the always-dependable DuBose whose Irish-tinged timbre alone is worth the ticket. To see him squirm in the face of Bourne’s black-eyed beauty is to witness the play in miniature. Adding an extra layer of entertainment is Latham as an almost too loveable Doc. When he describes his sister wanting to kick him out, it’s almost incomprehensible. Fox may struggle for the accent and some of the lines, but the depth of his Maurice’s end of life despair is incontestable. Truer words are rarely witnessed. Almost stealing the show, however, is Stimac as the manic maniac, Kenneth. His nimble wordplay, fueled by an otherworldly rage, is terrific, in the fullest sense of the word.

Robert Winn converts the pillared space into a cluttered but cozy space. Possessions surround the players, as tokens of the past, retained in vain faith of their utility. Steve Woods manages the lights of this dreary world with dim washes and practical lamps, keeping a few tricks up his sleeve. The subtlest designer at work here, though, is Claudia Stephens who contributes to the magic with a wave of the wand of fit and formality. Clothes make the man, after all.

What they make him (or her) is up to you. It may take you a few days to decide.

And you may decide to see it again. Thanks For Reading





Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Cosmic Thing
At Undermain Theatre, Conor McPherson's The Night Alive is alive with nimble wordplay and marvelous lyricism.
by David Novinski

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre Watertower Theatre Breadcrumbs Bocelli American Airlines center Collin Theatre Center John Corigliano at TCU Constellations Theatre Arlington Islamic Art Dallas Opera The Drama Club Cara Mia Lakecities Ballet Theatre
Click or Swipe to close
reviews
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
audiocasts
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
contests
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
crowdfunding
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
studio
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web



Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:


Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:


TheaterJones Section:


Category:
Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Search
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  



Your Name:
Your Email Adress:


please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :
Submit