by Conor McPherson
James 'Sharky' Harkin, erstwhile fisherman/van driver/chauffeur, is an unassuming sort of fellow well into his fifties. He lives with his cantankerous blind brother in a pretty squalid flat to the north of Dublin. He ekes out a living. He has his hopes and fears...It's Christmas Eve. Friends turn up to play cards and get drunk on Sharky's booze. One of them, Mr. Lockhart, is a man he thinks he recognises. As the night wears on and Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Day, Mr. Lockhart reminds Sharky that they last met in jail, where Sharky was doing time for killing a man in a fight. Lockhart appears to have arranged for Sharky's miraculous early release - but only against Sharky's undertaking that the next time they play cards, and he loses, Sharky must surrender his soul...In his magnificently atmospheric new play, McPherson is up to his old tricks, introducing real spookiness into the most ordinary surroundings: the ghost stories of "The Weir", the dead wife in "Shining City". With its variation on the Faust theme, "The Seafarer" is the strongest yet. It is set for huge success when it opens at the National Theatre in the autumn.