Noticing St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas gets scooped up by A.R.T.
St. Nicholas, a one-man show, is the story of a jaded Dublin theater critic, who finds himself besotted by a young actress and walks away from his ordinary life into a series of bizarre events. It is a macabre, funny story of obsession, seduction, entrapment, and blood. The Súgán production received an avalanche of high praise--as did Richard McElvain, who stars--when it ran last fall at the Boston Center for the Arts. "A small miracle of a play," proclaimed Bay Windows. "The most rewarding theatrical experience in the area!" added Ed Siegal, lead critic at The Boston Globe.
Robert Orchard, managing director of the American Repertory Theatre, agrees. "A number of people on the staff here, including Robert Brustein, saw the show and had high regard for it. It was well received, but constrained by a limited run. We thought it was a good idea to provide an opportunity for further performances," explains Orchard. "There was an extraordinary interplay between the audience and the performer that you rarely see. I hope we can capture the same exchange."
McElvain received the I.R.N.E (Independent Reviewers of New England) Award for Best Solo Performance for his turn in St. Nicholas, yet initially had his doubts. "I was so terrified by the play," he admits. "I was just trying to keep it alive moment to moment." But then The Phoenix wrote, "I can't imagine a better performance," and The Boston Globe gushed, "McElvain has the audience hanging, not just on his every word, but on his every nuance and gesture."
A 25-year veteran of the Boston theater scene, McElvain is practically a Boston institution, with a talent for comedy that belies his ability to evoke deep sadness. In St. Nicholas, his portrayal of a bitter, middle-aged theater critic seems to have struck a nerve. "Guys would stop me on the street and talk about how taken they were with it. The way McPherson captures self-doubt is really spot-on. He's only 24 years old, but he seems to have found a conduit into the minds of these men who have lived most of their lives, and now have grave doubts about it."
Conor McPherson is something of a wunderkind. One of Ireland's most exciting new playwrights, he has already garnered a handful of awards. In 1998, McPherson had three plays running simultaneously in New York, including The Weir on Broadway. St. Nicholas was commissioned by The Bush Theater in London, where it was first performed. His plays have caught the fancy of many local theaters, and The New Repertory Theater will be presenting St. Nicholas as part of their season next year.