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Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Review Roundup: "The Night Alive"

The Night Alive is the sort of play that lingers long after you’ve left the theater, swelling your heart and spinning around in your head. Conor McPherson has imbued his motley crew — Tommy and Doc and Aimee and Maurice and even Kenneth — with such humanity, it’s impossible not to see yourself in the characters. If nothing else, the ending will have you pondering for days.

Critics agree, calling the Geffen’s production of The Night Alive “touching” and “fascinating.” Take a look …

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“O’Shaughnessy steers clear of sentimentality with her appropriately ethereal portrayal of Aimee; Arndt finds the generosity within Maurice’s irascibility; and Donohue’s Doc has the affectionate nature of a dog that returns minutes after being screamed at with its head bowed, hoping to be stroked. Best of all, O’Connor delivers a tremendously stirring performance that burrows deep into Tommy’s fading spirit. The character has earned, through his generosity and fellow feeling, an unexpected shot at romantic happiness, and O’Connor’s eyes register the soaring delight and disappointment that are inexorably part of the ride.” Read more here.

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“The Night Alive, making its L.A. premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, is a slow build, but as in the beginning of Space Mountain, there’s pleasure in not knowing exactly when the ride’s going to get scary. You nod along with Tommy, thinking, ‘Yeah, what the fuck is going on?’ as you realize that at any moment the story will creep up on you and never let you go.” Read more here.

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“You are watching a master craftsman slowly working his magic on your sensibilities in so many unexpected ways … This great Irish playwright works his poetic imagery on the audience effortlessly, and by the end you are laughing and crying in equal measure. A visit to the Geffen is a ‘must’ for any lover of good theatre.” Read more here.

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“Absorbing! The acting under Randall Arney’s fluid direction is marvelous from the entire ensemble, with special nod to Dan Donahue as eccentric Doc for his delightfully quirky sense of fun and Paul Vincent O’Connor who makes Tommy such a gentle, humble human being, deserving of love. O’Connor had me rooting and cheering for Tommy.” Read more here.

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“Under Randall Arney’s assured direction, all five actors (a mix of Irish and Americans, though you’d hardly guess which is which, credit shared with dialect coach Paul Wager), deliver absolutely splendid performances. Not surprisingly, the Geffen Playhouse design team is as world-class as they get, not just Kata’s amazing set but David Kay Mickelsen’s pitch-perfect (and occasionally quite droll) costumes, Daniel Ionazzi’s evocative lighting, and sound designer/composer Richard Woodbury’s jazzy musical underscoring. Violence designer Ned Mochel deserves top marks too, as you will see.” Read more here.

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“ … a wise and graceful play that’s always in the present tense, doesn’t try to explain too much, and considerately lets us imagine all the backstories necessary to fully embrace what the author has to share. In addition, the all-Irish ensemble — offering surprisingly intelligible dialects — is a master class in acting.” Read more here.

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“O’Connor, sloppy and vaguely bearlike, turns in excellent work as the lovestruck Tommy who might be caught up in something far beyond his control. His interplay with O’Shaughnessy’s Aimee is handled with real delicacy, a gradual transition from protector to something deeper. The two of them cutting loose to Marvin Gaye — with Doc reluctantly joining in — is a highlight of the show.” Read more here.

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A genuine sweetness rises like a fog from those well-worn floorboards to envelope all of these tenderly misguided and complicated people, and then drifts offstage to flood an audience that has been given the chance to meet and get to know them. Some unexpected talk of stars and black holes and the absence of time seems odd and mysterious, especially since it floats out of Doc’s unschooled mouth. But it is is quietly exposed in the end, in an unexpectedly luminous moment. For you to savor and for me to not ruin. Read more here.


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