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Port Authority off-Broadway

Housed in a downtown Manhattan theatre so intimate, that it may actually qualify for off-off-Broadway (it would have to be fewer than 100 seats), “Port Authority” is a beautiful little collection of monologues, from Irish playwright, Conor McPherson. And after seeing a trio of BIG shows on Broadway during winter/spring 2014 (namely “Machinal”, “All the Way” and the musical “Violet”), it was my stated intention to reign things in–and go small for the fall. Three actors, who never interact, on a tiny set that never changes. Exactly what the doctor ordered, and a tonic against all things grandiose. “Port Authority” has absolutely nothing to do with the famed (infamous?) NYC bus terminal, but what it possesses in multitudes is heart, poetry, and some dynamic and touching performances. It’s a fine production, sharply directed by the accomplished Ciaran O’Reilly.

Kevin (a solid and energetic James Russell) is the young man living away from home for the first time. Dermot (the increasingly excellent Billy Carter) is the middle-aged husband and father starting the new, exciting job. Joe (the incredible Peter Maloney) is the retirement home widower, harkening back to regret and missed opportunities. It’s a gorgeously written piece, with each man’s tale building to touchingly nuanced crescendos. There are revelations, along with heart-breaking moments, but also a welcome share of the typical day-to-day mundane, peppered with occasional bursts of frank sexuality. Each performer “takes turns” speaking every few minutes, or so. One will stop and sit, and then the next one rises and picks up where he left off. It’s a very effective device, and the juggling of story lines, deftly holds off any tedium, with the tale being woven before it.

“Port Authority” runs 90 intermission-less minutes, and it’s never less than completely gripping, thanks to the triumvirate of talent on the boards. The Charlie Corcoran designed set, consists of three benches, stationed in front of a length of stone wall. There is a glimpse of blue sky above the monolithic staging, and a gentle auditory representation of the sea for background ambiance. It’s so gracefully staged and directed, and the actors so consummate and exacting, that you’ll be invigorated by the travel on each man’s journey. The Irish Repertory Theater has given lower Manhattan a fine revival of this gorgeous collection of memories. I saw it the day before it closed last week, so my hope is that not everyone missed its brief off-Broadway run. If indeed you did, keep an eye out for when a production of this fine elegiac play rises again.

This show rates a 9

 

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