by Lynn on October 29, 2022

in The Passionate Playgoer

The Good Thief by Conor McPherson produced by Fly On The Wall Theatre, had a very short run at Noonan’s Irish Pub on The Danforth, Toronto, Ont. in October and I was only able to see the last performance Oct. 25, after I returned from England.

I feel the production warrants comment.

Written by Conor McPherson

Directed by Rod Ceballos

Starring David Mackett

The Good Thief is the third Conor McPherson play that David Mackett and his Fly On The Wall Theatre have produced along with Dublin Carol and Port Authority. One can see the attraction to McPherson’s works. Irish playwright Conor McPherson is a master storyteller. He writes about the souls who are lost, lacking a safe harbor, solace. They flounder, are haunted but keep going in search of, what, something better? Redemption? Oblivion?

As a spider weaves a web to trap his prey, McPherson weaves his compelling story to draw the audience in and tangle them in his storytelling web, so that they can not escape the tight, compelling world of McPherson’s characters.

The Narrator of The Good Thief is such a character. He’s a lowly thug working for some other hoodlums to ‘lean’ on characters, just to frighten them into paying owed money, keeping quiet about something, or just overpowering them without actually hurting them. The Narrator seems reluctant to hurt anyone. So when he goes to a residence to scare one of the inhabitants he is surprised to see two professional thugs already there and they don’t have the same hesitation to inflicting pain. Matters get out of hand and the thugs kill the man they are seeking. The Narrator takes the man’s wife and daughter in his car to escape the thugs. But then matters turn ugly. The title, The Good Thief is ironic rather than a description of the man’s thug work. He has a heart that really doesn’t want to hurt anyone.

The Narrator is haunted by what happens and he can’t escape being haunted. He tells the story in a pub (the Noonan Irish Pub on the Danforth seems ideal for such an endeavor). He drinks a large glass of what looks like Guinness, followed by a short glass of stronger stuff. David Mackett and his director Rod Ceballos don’t give in to the cliché of a haunted man drinking and drinking to escape being haunted. The Narrator has just those two drinks that don’t mask being haunted. They allow The Narrator to experience the full force of the inescapable, his haunted memories.

David Mackett as The Narrator tells the story in a well-paced delivery. There is nuance and subtlety in the telling—if I have a quibble it’s that there is room for more variation in the voice as he tells the story. The Narrator finds humour in the details and the people he meets, and doesn’t tip his hand before he has to in telling us what happened and why the memory of it is something he can’t escape. It was a tribute to Mackett that the whole pub was quiet as he told the story. No clinking of glasses; no eating of food. Just an appreciative audience listening to a compelling story, told by an engaging actor in a lilting Irish accent, reveling in the words.

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