Review: Going With the Flow
Conor McPherson’s
“Port Authority”

"Port Authority" plays at the DR2 Theater in Union Square through November 16th. Presented by the Irish Repertory Theatre.

By Teresa O'Dea Hein, ContributorNovember 4, 2014

“Port Authority” is an intimate and troubled look at memory and remorse.

Life is about the choices we make, or choose not to make. The latter is particularly true for the rudderless characters in Conor McPherson’s “Port Authority,” the season opener now playing at the Irish Repertory Theatre’s temporary home in the DR2 Theatre on East 15th Street.

This intimate stage reinforces the confessional nature of the piece, a deceptively simple series of monologues shared by three men at different points in their lives in which they all “go with the flow.” The actors never interact with each other but ultimately their storylines do.

In the process, the three talk frankly about women, jobs, drinking, sex, and “the other woman.” The characters admit things to the audience that they could never tell the people in their own lives.

McPherson, a master of the monologue form, introduces people who are adrift in their lives. Even the youngest character, the 20-something Kevin played by James Russell, is seemingly helpless to change the course of his unfocused life.

“I was someone to whom things just happened,” observes the middle-aged Dermot, portrayed by Billy Carter.

Together with Peter Maloney as the elderly Joe, these three ably embody different reactions to regret — whether that is oblivious, drowning in the emotion, or over it.

For example, Joe, a widower living in a senior home, points out: “When you get to my age, you give up on them [regret and worry] because they don’t help anything,” Instead, Joe focuses on his memories and the emotions they rekindle.

All three characters are moored by the steadfast people in their lives, be they parents, girlfriends, long-suffering wives, or even nuns. The unseen women are generally described as the take-charge halves of these relationships.

The play is seamlessly brought to life by Ciarán O’Reilly, the play’s Cavan-born director who co-founded the Irish Rep in New York with Charlotte Moore in 1988.

Credit should also go to dialect coach Stephen Gabis, who took two American actors as well as one reared in Bangor, Co. Down (but a New York resident for the past several years) and helped them deliver these extensive monologues with convincing Dublin accents.

The play itself is anchored by Charlie Corcoran’s minimalistic yet evocative set suggesting Dublin’s harbor at Dun Laoghaire, which itself is mentioned in the play.

This season’s lineup — the Irish Rep’s 27th — deals with ghosts of characters’ past, as in this play, whether that past dates from recent weeks or years long ago. Even the look of its own house on West 22nd Street will soon be a memory as that theater is closed for extensive remodeling.

Performances of Port Authority continue through November 16 at the DR2. For more information, visit www.irishrep.org.

 

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