Conor McPherson began his playwrighting career with a series of shaggy dog crime stories and achieved international renown with compact dramas tinged with the supernatural. His latest original work, A NIGHT ALIVE, now onstage from Inis Nua Theatre Company, retains elements of his earlier work while marking something of a departure. The supernatural, or spiritual, is pushed further to the edge yet still breathes poignancy into a lushly populated, intimate look at modern isolation.
The work reminded me of the superb title of a short story collection by Richard Yates, 11 Kinds of Loneliness. Here are four: After messing up his marriage and life, Tommy (Andrew Criss) lives in a bed-sit in the house of his recently widowed Uncle Maurice (Michael Toner). His only visits come from slow-witted, much-abused Doc (Mike Dees, with lumbering presence) until Tommy brings home a damsel in distress Aimee (Minou Pourshariati), fleeing an abusive boyfriend. Without leaving the confines of Tommy’s room (a suitably shabby design by You-Shin Chen), McPherson draws touching portrayals of the characters in their quests for connection. Violence punctuates the tale and director Tom Reing plays up the humor, but this remains a quiet, human story.
[Inis Nua Theatre Company at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake. 302 S. Hicks Street] October 9–27, 2019; inisnuatheatre.org