Bethesda, Md.-based Quotidian Theatre Company opens its 2016-2017 season with The Night Alive, the most recent, critically acclaimed drama from Conor McPherson, one of contemporary theater’s brightest lights. The 2013 play received positive reviews for its London and Off-Broadway runs and won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.
The Night Alive, McPherson’s latest bruiser, is set in a run-down house in Dublin (where else?) amid a group of survivors on the margins and revolves a decision that will change their lives.
Quotidian co-founder and director Jack Sbarbori has long dedicated himself to producing McPherson’s work, including the U.S. premiere of The Veil in 2014 and several area premieres. Along with the late Horton Foote, Sbarbori considers McPherson his favorite playwright for having “provided the most moving and rewarding theater in my life.”
Roy Maurer: Where does The Night Alive sit in your ranking of McPherson’s work?
Sbarbori: As with many playwrights, the latest effort often becomes the favorite, and such is the case with The Night Alive. If I were to rank McPherson’s plays, I suppose that each current favorite is eventually replaced by Port Authority.
Maurer: Do the two plays complement each other at all?
Sbarbori: Only in their ability to provide a powerful examination of the human condition.
Maurer: What does it mean for Quotidian to mount McPherson’s latest?
Sbarbori: Quotidian staged The Weir in 2004 and we proceeded with most of his plays. We are fortunate to have produced area premieres of Port Authority, Dublin Carol, and The Birds, as well as the U.S. premiere of The Veil. As soon as we [Sbarbori and Quotidian co-founder Stephanie Mumford] first attended The Night Alive, we knew that Quotidian’s talent and dedication would serve the play so very well.
Maurer: What is McPherson commenting on this time?
Sbarbori: Conor McPherson was raised as a Roman Catholic and claims to be an atheist. Yet The Night Alive is filled with questions about the afterlife. Life has not treated these five characters in the play very well. What has or will happen to them? There will be no definitive answers.
Maurer: Who’s in the cast?
Sbarbori: We are very fortunate to have Quotidian and McPherson veterans, with Matthew Vaky as Tommy, David Dubov as Doc, and Chelsea Mayo as Aimee. Quotidian newcomers Joe Palka as Maurice and Grant Cloyd as Kenneth complete one of our strongest casts.
The Night Alive
October 21 – November 20, 2016
Details and tickets
Maurer: What’s been the most exciting discovery of working on this production?
Sbarbori: The Night Alive is a production that provides many revelations throughout, allowing an understanding of McPherson’s goals. The play is unique in that he has included recorded music as important parts of it. Marvin Gaye’s popular “What’s Going On” serves as a theme for all the characters, while Father John Misty’s “Funtimes in Babylon” which closes the play, is intended for the character Tommy. Sadly, the latter recording is often omitted in recent productions.
Maurer: I still remember the electricity in the air following the final beat of Quotidian’s production of Shining City. How do you expect audiences will feel after viewing The Night Alive?
Sbarbori: Certainly, each play has its own charm. Shining City features a straightforward, understated story with a shocking ending. The Night Alive has many more shocks along the way, but both plays share a final scene which will confound the audience. They’ll be thinking “Is that what I just saw?”