The simplest moments in life can often be the most profound, the most memorable, and the most devastating. Conor McPherson’s ‘Port Authority’ uses this idea as it’s central theme, weaving it into the life-stories of three Dublin men, of varying backgrounds and ages; as a young man moves out of his parent’s house, a middle-aged man gets a job he is unqualified for, and a pensioner receives a mysterious package in the post.
The structure of the play will intimidate many. The stage layout is bare and simple, there is no interaction between the actors, and there is extreme economy in movements on the stage. This allows the focus to remain on the characters stories and the profound revelations contained therein. The benches and distant sounds of buoys at sea, suggest that the characters are at a way-station of life considering the next move to make. Their inertia is often stifling and claustrophobic. Simple phrases and observances are uttered in devastating ways, hinting at the lonelinesses and anxieties hidden behind the faces of those around us.
Contemporary Dublin life is vividly portrayed. The three dramatic monologues are delivered in a natural and conversational tone, with a dizzying list of Dublin place names and colloquialisms littered throughout.
As we meet the characters for the first time we try to guess their story and background from their dress and accent. They arrive fully-formed with their story and predicament growing out around them and slowly becoming apparent to the audience.
Presented by Decadent Theatre and directed by Andrew Flynn, this production of Port Authority features three powerful and nuanced performances from its leads - Garrett Keogh, Phelim Drew, and Carl Kennedy – and it is on the strength of these performances that the play succeeds. While the stories are engaging yet relatable, it is their delivery that grabs attention and holds the audience rapt.
Kennedy’s Kevin has moved into a house-share with his best mate and love of his life. Drew’s Dermot yearns for the possibilities of youth and attempts to recapture his glory days. His performance embodies the duality of Dermot’s existence which fluctuates between the hilarious and the pathetically tragic. In Keogh’s Joe, the show’s true heart is located, particularly in his turmoil over the regret of a lost love and thoughts of what might have been.
‘Port Authority’ is a must-see; at times both heart-breaking and hilarious. While the stories themselves are slightly predictable, they are platforms from which the themes of emotional fear, loss, regret, guilt, and the fears of growing up and getting old, can be examined.
‘Port Authority’ ran for one night in the Watergate Theatre as part of a six-week national tour.