Why in the world, you might ask, would Quotidian Theatre Company choose to stage Conor McPherson’s NY-Drama-Circle-Award-Winning Play The Night Alive after its Bethesda neighbor, Round House, so successfully produced the play just one year earlier? Well, let’s go back to December 2013, when QTC co-founders Jack Sbarbori and Stephanie Mumford saw the difficult-to-categorize work at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York. As usual, we saw the play a couple of times and sat as close as possible to the stage in the intimate performance space, a former church, so we could feel a part of the action. We were spellbound by the authenticity and humanity of the quirky, yet entirely recognizable characters. The dramatic shifts between the everyday and otherworldly, the seediness and sublime, the despair, and laugh-out-loud humor enthralled us.
So of course, Jack–McPherson’s number one fan and noted director of McPherson’s plays in the D.C. area—had to do it. He immediately applied for the rights, but was chagrined to learn that a larger regional theatre had it in reserve for a staging in the distant future. In the meantime, Jack mollified his disappointment by directing another McPherson play on his “to-do” list, This Lime Tree Bower, and just as soon as Round House completed its production of The Night Alive in the fall of 2015, Jack successfully obtained the rights.
One of QTC’s core missions is to examine the canon of works by its cornerstone playwrights—Anton Chekhov, Horton Foote, and Conor McPherson. Having previously staged McPherson’s The Weir, Dublin Carol, Port Authority (D.C. area premiere), The Seafarer, Shining City, The Birds (D.C. area premiere), The Veil (U.S. premiere), and This Lime Tree Bower, QTC is running out of McPherson’s plays to explore, while garnering a reputation for expert and insightful stagings of the master Irish playwright’s works. Despite Round House’s fine production last season, D.C. Theatre Scene’s Tim Treanor still put QTC’s 2016 offering of the same work on his annual list of “won’t-miss shows.” According to Treanor, “Quotidian… specializes in the subtle and the underplayed, which is just perfect for this play.” In July 2015, D.C. Theater Scene’s Roy Maurer praised QTC as “the best stage to experience McPherson’s plays in the Washington, D.C. area.”
So, even if you have already seen this play, QTC’s special affinity for McPherson’s work is likely to make you see it in a different light, particularly its mystifying ending.