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The Seafarer at Union Avenue Christian Church 

Rather than compete with the glut of holiday shows in December, the West End Players Guild delayed its Christmas play until January. Mostly set on Christmas Eve and extending into the wee hours of Christmas morning, Conor McPherson's morality play occurs in a remote coastal town north of Dublin, where a big holiday shindig involves downing a pint of Guinness and playing a few hands of cards. Complications ensue when one of the five players, Mr. Lockhart (the smoothly unctuous Barry Hyatt), turns out to be the Devil incarnate, come to claim the soul of Sharky (Matt Hanify), to whom he did a favor 25 years prior. Now it's payback time. Or is it? Anyone who recalls Joe Hanrahan's haunting performances in the one-man plays St. Nicholas and The Good Thief knows that McPherson is a pungent Irish writer whose dialogue rolls like a roaring tide. Card games can make for static theater, but there's enough richness of character here (Robert Ashton has great fun with Sharky's recently blinded and perpetually pie-eyed brother) to keep The Seafarer afloat. Performed under the direction of Steve Callahan through January 15 at Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union Boulevard. Tickets are $20. Call 314-367-0025 or visit www.westendplayers.org.

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