Conor McPherson's The Seafarer is a play about a group of drinking buddies whose extended Christmas Eve card game is played for the highest stakes possible. It was first performed at the National Theatre, London, in the Cottesloe auditorium, on 28 September 2006 (previews from 20 September) - the first of McPherson's plays to be staged at the National Theatre.
It’s Christmas Eve and James 'Sharky' Harkin, an erstwhile fisherman/van driver/chauffeur now in his fifties, has returned to Dublin to look after his ageing, irascible brother, Richard, who’s recently gone blind. Two old drinking buddies, Ivan and Nicky, are also holed up at the house, hoping to play some cards. But with the arrival of Mr Lockhart, an acquaintance of Nicky's, the stakes are raised ever higher. In fact, Sharky may be playing for his very soul.
The National Theatre premiere was directed by McPherson and designed by Rae Smith, with Ron Cook as Mr Lockhart, Conleth Hill as Ivan, Karl Johnson as Sharky, Michael McElhatton as Nicky and Jim Norton as Richard.
The play received its American premiere at the Booth Theater, New York, on 31 October 2007, with the same artistic team. The cast was as follows: Conleth Hill as Ivan, Ciarán Hinds as Mr Lockhart, Sean Mahon as Nicky, David Morse as Sharky and Jim Norton as Richard.