The seafarer sails into Lyric after acclaimed run in Scotland


Conor McPherson’s Tony and Olivier Award nominated play The Seafarer has its Northern Ireland premiere at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast this week after it wowed critics in Scotland.

Described by The New York Times as ‘quite possibly the finest playwright of his generation’, McPherson’s dark and funny tale of dealing with the devil is directed by Rachel O’Riordan with set design by Gary McCann.

Louis Dempsey (Troy, Cloud Atlas, Revolver, Sea of Souls)plays erstwhile fisherman/van driver/chauffeur and recovering alcoholic James ‘Sharky’ Harkin who returns to his Dublin home to look after his recently-blinded brotherRichard.  Joined on Christmas Eve for a game of poker and a festive tipple, some old buddies bring with them a mysterious stranger. Sharky soon comes to realise that drink is not the only demon he’ll be facing that night.

The Seafarer is a joint production by the Lyric and Perth Theatre, Scotland whose creative director Rachel O’Riordan, formerly lived in Belfast.

“I am delighted to be directing both the Scottish and Northern Irish premiere production of such a fantastic play,” Rachel said. “Conor McPherson is one of our best contemporary playwrights, so it really is a coup for Perth Theatre and Lyric Theatre, Belfast to secure this double first. Most of all it’s a joy for me and the cast to be the first to tell this extraordinary tale to our audience.

The Seafarer is a bold and magical piece of theatre which takes an age-old theme – God versus the Devil – and places it in a Dublin suburb amongst a bunch of boozy mates.  I am intrigued by the idea that God and the Devil walk amongst us and that, at any point, they could reveal themselves to any of us.  Although The Seafarer exposes the murkiest recesses of the human soul, McPherson’s skill with dialogue and characters manages to make us laugh even at the darkest moments.”

Richard Croxford, artistic director of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast said:

“We are delighted to collaborate with the prestigious Perth Theatre to produce the Scottish/Northern Irish premiere of one of the most acclaimed plays of recent years. Conor McPherson is not just regarded as a great Irish playwright but one of the greatest playwrights of his generation. The Seafarer is a rich, layered tale of hope and despair with sparkling, witty dialogue that in the hands of director Rachel O’Riordan has ignited audiences in Perth. We are really looking forward to its successful run in Belfast.”

The playwright, Conor McPherson said:

“Although set in Ireland, the themes and characters of The Seafarer are, I hope, universal, and it has been really gratifying to have seen it warmly received in far flung places.  It is always interesting to see how new audiences respond to the play and I look forward to introducing The Seafarer to Northern Irish audiences with this fresh production from closer to home.”

The Seafarer runs on the Danske Bank Stage from 28 February to 23 March (preview 27 February). Tickets from £10 – £22.50.