First Look: ‘The Night Alive’ at Irish Classical Theatre

Vincent O’Neill and Brian Mysliwy in ‘The Night Alive’ at Irish Classical Theatre.

Great plays are plot-driven; exceptional plays are character driven. That human element draws you into a story, exposes your imagination to heartache or triumph, takes you to a place that may be comforting or disturbing. The relationships between the characters can move you or repel you, entertain you or unnerve you…but it’s that connection to humanity to forms a bond between character and audience.

It’s the quirky, disturbing, and funny characters that drive the next production for the Irish Classical Theatre Company. In “The Night Alive,” which opened March 2, playwright Conor McPherson sets his story in a once grand manor, now a bedsit for five men. One of them meets a young prostitute who was just beaten and he brings her home. For a bunch of lonely and cast aside men, this moment of rescue invites new humanity to their grubby lives. “When I read this amazing and odd script about a year ago, I felt that, when all was said and done, it was a love story,” says Director Brian Cavanagh. “Now after months of research, discussions and rehearsals, I have many new thoughts and opinions about “The Night Alive,” but I still feel it’s a love story.”

He’s assembled quite the cast, ironically, with many alumni of the stellar Niagara University theatre program. “When I started looking for actors to play the characters they had to be what my mind had made them after so many hours with the script. They had to feel and fit my interpretation of the written person. I must say that I feel very confident with the ensemble of actors in our play.”

The production stars Brian Mysliwy (in his 10th ICTC production), ICTC Artistic Director Vincent O’Neill as his uncle Maurice, Cassie Gorniewicz (who recently relocated to Buffalo) as the only female guest Aimee, Kevin Craig as Tommy’s sidekick and partner in crime Doc, and Adam Yellen as Kenneth, the menacing stranger who wanders in.

These aren’t mainstream Dublin characters: they’re living on the fringe, not the most relatable of personalities.  Making these disparate characters connect onstage, and then reach into the audience may not always be comfortable, especially when the characters may not be the likeable sort. Cavanagh says, “In any story the characters have to be honest and emotionally convincing.”

Called a “true poet of contemporary theatre,” McPherson is no stranger to the ICTC stage. His works “The Weir” in 2001 and “The Shining City “ in 2011 were solid points of entry into this young playwright’s body of work.  “The Night Alive” was named the best play by the New York Drama Critics Circle in 2013-14, and earned critical acclaim in Dublin, London and New York.

“The Night Alive” runs from March 2 to 25, 2018 and is presented at Irish Classical Theatre. For more information, click here.

Promotional Consideration Paid For By The Theatre Alliance Of Buffalo.