PicksInSix Theater Review: Goodman Theatre "St. Nicholas"
“We only take what we need.”
There is so much to learn about cohabitation with vampires in Conor McPherson’s dark and brooding “St. Nicholas,” the Donmar Warehouse revival directed by Simon Evans that opened at the Goodman Theatre on Sunday. The 1997 monologue stars Brendan Coyle as the loathsome theater critic whose infatuation with an actress leads him away from a shallow, purposeless existence to an alternate reality where people actually find him fascinating, even charming. So much so, that he fulfills the late night revelry of his new found housemates with vigor as a macabre messenger of the night..
Coyle, known to American audiences as Mr. Bates in the landmark PBS series “Downton Abbey,” is the critic who states plainly “I wasn’t dying, like you might think. No. I was dead.” Working little more than an hour a day at actually producing an opinion, he was devoid of all ideas and stories,. That is until an otherwise mediocre theatrical effort evolves into a fascinating tale all its own.
The obsessive nature of he-who-has-no-name creates a moral dilemma that spirals completely out of control. At a post-performance encounter with the cast of ‘Salome’, a play he had just reviewed unfavorably, he plots to stand with the cast, ruin their evening and get paid for it. From then on, things start to go wickedly awry.
Coyle’s quietly commanding performance is a monumental undertaking over the course of two acts in the Owen, which at 450 seats is nearly twice the size of previous mountings of this piece. Bubbling with the nuance of an exceptionally skilled actor, Coyle chews up McPherson’s sprawling narrative, his fear and frustration palpable in the face of the evil presence that hangs in the air like a heavy dew.
Despite an assurance that “We only take what we need,” when vampires are involved, something bad is bound to happen. It is safe to say that anyone doubling down on this story will know that it is not a good idea to take a vampire at his word. But, then again, without many realistic alternatives, and all the good looks and charm available for the taking, who could justifiably saying no?
Peter McKintosh (Set Design), Matt Daw (Lighting Design) and Christopher Shutt (Sound Design) combine for a chilling atmosphere. With strong language and adult themes, this is more appropriate for mature audiences. The show run two hours with an intermission in a limited run at the Goodman through January 27th so don’t delay.
Donmar Warehouse Production
through January 27th
170 North Dearborn
For more reviews, visit: Theatre In Chicago