McPherson – whose plays have included The Weir, Dublin Carol and Shining City, all premiered at the Royal Court - makes his National Theatre debut directing the play, which stars Conleth Hill, Ron Cook, Karl Johnson, Michael McElhatton and Jim Norton.
It’s Christmas Eve and Sharky has returned to Dublin to look after his irascible, ageing brother who’s recently gone blind. Old drinking buddies Ivan and Nicky are holed up at the house too, hoping to play some cards. But with the arrival of a stranger from the distant past, the stakes are raised ever higher. In fact, Sharky may be playing for his very soul.
On the whole, first night critics felt that, although McPherson treads his own well-worn ground, his writing remains sharp and compelling, with extremely well-drawn characterisations. If there were concerns about the believability of a crucial plot twist, there was also high praise all round for the five performances.
- by Caroline Ansdell