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Three lives intersect in ‘Port Authority’

John Hoogenakker (from left) Patrick Clear Rob Fentstar Conor McPherson’s 'Port Authority' Writers' Theatre. |  Michael Brosilow Photo

John Hoogenakker (from left), Patrick Clear and Rob Fenton star in Conor McPherson’s "Port Authority" at Writers' Theatre. | Michael Brosilow Photo

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‘Port Authority,’ Oct. 29-Feb. 16, Writers’ Theatre, 664 Vernon Ave., Glencoe. $35-$70; (847) 242-6000; writerstheatre.org

Three Irish men, from different generations, are all at turning points in their lives. Although they sit next to each other, and their tales are interwoven, they speak directly to the audience in “Port Authority,” Conor McPherson’s lyrical play that is having its Midwest premiere at Writers’ Theatre.

Rob Fenton plays Kevin, the youngest member of the trio in the show directed by William Brown.

“Kevin is a young 20-year-old who is trying to move out of his house for the first time and excited about the adventure of life but doesn’t necessarily know where’s he’s going with his own,” Fenton said. “I think he’s searching for what makes him fit in and what makes him happy.”

John Hoogenakker plays Dermot, a middle-aged man.

“Dermot is a guy who has had a lot of letdowns in life,” Hoogenakker said. “He seems to be a person who wants to take all of the problems that the world has dealt him and put them on someone else’s shoulders.”

Dermot is dealing with the fact that he has been hired for an amazing job with a prestigious money management firm. “He is completely unqualified for it,” Hoogenakker related. His discomfort leads to shameful — although somewhat amusing — behavior at a corporate party.

The oldest member of the trio, Joe, who lives in a group home, is played by Patrick Clear.

“Joe reminds me a lot of my father’s generation,” Clear said. “Someone who grew up Irish Catholic, pre-Vatican II. He’s essentially a conventional man who grew up in the ’50s and ’60s and worked in business. He sort of saw the world in very black-and-white terms.”

“I was raised this way, too, as an Irish Catholic,” Clair said. “You felt that God was watching you all the time and judging your actions.”

Joe’s tale is filled with regret. “To me, it’s heartbreaking to think you’ve reached the very latter part of your life and realize that you didn’t ask enough of life,” Clear said.

Fenton noted that even though the three characters are basically delivering monologues and not interacting with each other, “We’re aware of one another and kind of pick up the common humanity that threads the three of us together and makes our stories interconnected.”

“It’s a beautiful piece,” Hoogenakker added, “and the more we rehearse, the more we learn about it. I’m sure once we add the audience component, it’s going to bloom on a lot of other levels as well.”

Myrna Petlicki is a local freelance writer.



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