'The Good Thief' by Conor McPherson

Produced by Fly on the Wall Theatre

Allison Bjerkseth

Joe Szekeres

A gutsy and visceral in-your-face dramatic monologue presentation.

The name ‘Fly on the Wall Theatre’ piqued my curiosity. How often have we all wished we could be a fly on the wall in a conversation that we had no right to hear?

That proverbial fly on the wall also indicates we are unseen and unheard witnesses to an immediate connection between two or more people. Now add that to Fly on the Wall’s mandate which specializes in plays that: “grab our attention or rarely produced or fallen off the map or seldom seen” and I believe that is the start of an artist establishing an intimate connection and contact with an audience.

This is what I call edgy theatre.

And placing Conor McPherson’s attention-grabbing ‘The Good Thief’ at Noonan’s on the Danforth, nonetheless, amped the impact as the pub was an intimate hall where I could see what was going on in all corners of the room.

I couldn’t think of a more appropriate place to set this gutsy and visceral in-your-face dramatic monologue presentation.

The press release stated ‘The Good Thief’ is a return production from 2019 named one of Toronto’s Top 10 productions by Christopher Hoile of Stage Door. I didn’t see it then.

I can understand though why Hoile named it one of his Top 10.

Under Rod Ceballos’ carefully nuanced direction, David Mackett’s Narrator remains astoundingly engrossing throughout Conor McPherson’s tightly packed scripted story of someone who according to the Director’s Note is “haunted by an unforgiving past that lets in the rays of light, of hope, of peace to a lonely and troubled soul.”

There’s an internal fiery intensity about Mackett. His demeanour and posture make it appear as if he is ready to bolt out the door of Noonan’s if given the opportunity. Absolutely engaging to watch him move about the room with continued precision and controlled purpose.

The play opens with the Narrator (read thug or hit man in here if you like) standing in the middle of the pub with a beer in his hand. He recounts to the audience about his job. He has been hired by an Irish mobster to frighten people and make them pay up if they are late or delinquent or might be on the lam. Sometimes he might have to kill them if they haven’t paid up at all.

We also learn about Greta who was the Narrator’s girlfriend at one point and who is now the girlfriend of his boss. The boss does not treat Greta right and this does not sit well with the Narrator.

An incident that should have been routine was botched and the Narrator finds himself on the run across Ireland accompanied by the wife of one of the men who died in the incident plus her daughter. It appears as if perhaps the tables have been turned on the Narrator as he’s on the lam.

The plot turns quickly at the end. I’ve thought about it for a couple of days and it does make sense, but to share it here would be a disservice to the fine work Mackett delivers. One must experience it live at Noonan’s.

The title ‘The Good Thief’ puzzles and intrigues me simultaneously. First, the Irish Catholic background tells us the Good Thief is the one who was crucified along with Christ on Calvary. Jesus states that on his death, the Good Thief will be in Paradise. This is a core belief of Catholicism where we believe death is not the end and we will see loved ones again.

Just who is ‘The Good Thief’ in this play? Is it the Narrator? There are moments where the Narrator’s ‘goodness’ shines through, but I don’t know if he can be considered good especially in knowing what he does for a living. This is the moment where I wished there might or could have been a talkback after the performance OR that I had attended the production with someone where we could have talked about the meaning after.

Even though I’m still stumped by the title, the reason to see this return of ‘The Good Thief’ is David Mackett. He becomes a riveting raconteur of passion, poignancy, regret and, somehow, hope. He moves around telling the story and stands at the bar or sits on the makeshift stage with reliable credibility. Listening to and watching Mackett narrate the tale becomes another master class in acting I’ve had the privilege to experience this fall.

‘The Good Thief’ is a definite must-see this fall.

Running time: approximately 70 minutes with no intermission.

‘The Good Thief’ runs October 19 at 7 pm, October 22 and 23 at 2 pm and October 25 at 7 pm at Noonan’s Pub, 141 Danforth Avenue. Tickets may be purchased at the door (cash only) or https://www.flyonthewalltheatre.ca/upcoming---the-good-thief-2022.html

THE GOOD THIEF by Conor McPherson
Production staged by Fly on the Wall Theatre
Directed by Rod Ceballos
Production Assistant: Valerie Molloy
Performer: David Mackett

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