Some experiences make one examine life. Some experiences make one want to clean the house (physically and metaphorically). Dobama’s “The Night Alive” does both. Running now through February 12, 2107, the Connor McPherson play is an investigation of people and of the messiness of their inner and outer lives.
Featuring the brave cast of Joel Hammer*, Robert Hawkes, Anjanette Hall*, David Peacock*, and Val Kozlenko, these word warriors step into their characters to tackle Irish accents, money problems, and the moral implications of interacting with other human beings in complicated circumstances.
Directed by Leighann Delorenzo, the actors flow through the filthy apartment as if they’ve been there for years. They have a great rapport with one another. With dialogue that’s both witty and thoughtful, the banter is very well delivered, and it’s pulled off so that audiences stay connected at all twists and turns of this morally bendable tale.
Tommy is a contractor of sorts, living in squalor in a lower apartment of his uncle’s home in Dublin. He makes a living with his van by doing handy work and a series of schemes that he enacts with his “disabled” partner Doc. Always 5-10 seconds behind everyone else, Doc is just trying to scrape by, as well.
When Tommy encounters a bloody Aimee on the roadside, he brings her home and lets in a world of uncertainty and baggage that he could not imagine for any of them.
Hammer seems right at home as Tommy, the sponging nephew. Hall is on point as the frightened, down-and-out Aimee, while Kozlenko feels a bit like a bull in the china shop as Kenneth (Aimee’s ex) with his incredibly different energy. Hawkes plays Maurice as stern and wise, just like the uncle you’d never want to disappoint.
The relief of the story is Peacock as Doc. Played with an ease and an openness that encourages a bit of comic relief, he moves the play along in layers and is the most likeable of the bunch.
Despite all of the deep moments, ponderings about life, etc., there are wonderful breaks of levity including an “Islands In The Stream” jam, a late night dance party, and more. All blended with plenty of alcohol. DRINK UP! It’s a cocktail for your mind and your soul.
While Peacock and Hall nail the accents, the other actors fall in and out of them occasionally, drawing away from the Irish aura a bit. The show ending also comes on a bit quickly – with so much exposition, it seems like it should have a slower and more satisfying ending… but perhaps this is not what the author or director intend. Perhaps it’s all about what each individual audience member experiences.
Regardless, the show is ABSOLUTELY worth seeing for its superior acting, beautiful language, interesting story, and the messiest Dublin apartment you’ll see on stage in Cleveland courtesy of design team Cameron Caley Michalak (Scenic), and Marcus Dana (Lights). Jeremy Dobbins has the right ambiance (Sound), and Inda Blatch-Geib (Costumes) is also right on with the tone of mess and struggle of the play. Kudos to all.
Content Advisory: Adult Language, Violence, Fog Effects
“The Night Alive” runs 110 minutes with no intermission at Dobama Theatre now through February 12, 2017. The theatre is located at The Heights Library, 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118.
Call the Box Office at – 216.932.3396
Visit the Website at – http://www.dobama.org/night-alive
THURSDAY (EVE); 7:30PM – $29
FRIDAY (EVE); 8:00PM – $32
SATURDAY (EVE); 8:00PM – $32
SUNDAY (MAT.); 2:30PM – $29
*Senior, Student, and Military discounts available.