Acclaimed Irish scripter Conor McPherson appropriately nabs the title for this captivating word fest from a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge that ends with the stanza, “…No sound is dissonant which tells of life.” A purveyor of the great art of storytelling, Irish-style, McPherson masterfully conjures up a tangible celebration of human existence as experienced by three beer-swilling Irishmen. Helmer Allan Miller guides with a light hand, allowing the essence of McPherson’s infectious, intertwining monologues to flow among the three able protagonists as freely as the brew that is never far from their lips.
Miller sets the tone for this legiter by having Frank (David Agranov), his teenage brother Joe (Sean Wing), and family friend Ray (Cyrus Alexander) casually stroll through the audience with nothing on their minds more pressing than grabbing a pint at the pub. Once on stage, each settles into a comfy chair within a few easy paces from a strategically placed table laden with enough bottles to get them through the evening.
They are decidedly involved in each other’s lives. Wing’s callow young Joe and Agranov’s headstrong Frank live with their widowed father, who owns a “chipper” (fish and chips shop) in a small seaside village. Alexander’s Ray, a semi-dissolute academician, is romantically entangled with their sister Carmel (unseen).
“This Lime Tree Bower” eschews action or direct conversation. As Joe launches into a seemingly mundane recollection about a school chum, Frank and Ray settle silently into their beers. Each is satisfied to simply sip and listen until it is his time to address the audience. The guys produce their own self-serving morals. But along the way, McPherson sketches a fascinating portrait of casual, accident-prone existences that somehow flounder their way to a mutually felt transcendent evolutionary experience.
The thesps inhabit their roles with seamless aplomb as each character is becomes involved his own story. Wing exudes an endearing coming-of-age vulnerability as Joe attempts to emulate his brother’s swagger, while manically attempting to extricate himself from his school chum’s damning lies. Agranov offers a perfect amalgam of surprise, awe and guilty pleasure as Frank relates his improbable foray into crime to help out his debt-laden father.
Alexander’s brogue tends to wander but he effectively conveys the relentless disintegration of a disillusioned philosophy professor whose career is undermined by an abundance of booze and his unabashed addiction to bedding down his female students.
Abetting the proceedings are Hans Pfeiderer’s understated sets and lights that underscore without distracting from the storytellers’ discourse.