Onstage: The Seafarer

According to Ensemble Theatre’s D. Lynn Meyers, playwright Conor McPherson is “one of the greatest storytellers alive today.” The Seafarer is the show that really elevated the young Irish playwright’s name recognition. Its production last season on Broad

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According to Ensemble Theatre’s D. Lynn Meyers, playwright Conor McPherson is “one of the greatest storytellers alive today.” If you’ve been paying attention to Cincinnati stages over the past few years, you’ve likely been charmed — and frightened — by his stories of hauntings and desperate people. Last month New Stage Collective presented McPherson’s Shining City, but that wasn’t his first local appearance. The Weir, his spooky 1997 collection of ghost stories, was presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare back in 2000, and Know Theatre took two of his intimate monologue-driven works, The Good Thief and Port Authority, to Mount Adams Bar and Grill in 2004 and 2005. The Seafarer is the show that really elevated the young Irish playwright’s name recognition. Its production last season on Broadway earned a broad audience and a Tony Award nomination.

Set on Christmas Eve in Ireland, The Seafarer is about a collection of misfits who come together to play cards. Their evening features a visit from a stranger who ups the stakes with a reminder that one of them made a bargain with him in prison. Suddenly they’re locked in a Faustian game with souls at stakes. ETC’s all-star cast is led by New York regular (and frequent ETC guest) Dennis Parlato as the devilish Mr. Lockhart. Among the crew of card players are Joneal Joplin, familiar to local audiences as Ebenezer Scrooge at the Cincinnati Playhouse (1997-2004) and a CEA winner for last season’s Cincinnati Shakespeare production of Long Day’s Journey into Night, and Brian Isaac Phillips, Cincinnati Shakespeare’s artistic director, who came to town as an ETC intern 10 years ago. With these actors presenting a riveting thriller of a story, The Seafarer promises to be one of the fall’s best works onstage. $27-$38. Get tickets, performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.

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