Category Archives: South End

SpeakEasy’s The Seafarer

[The preview for this review is here.]

Last week I saw SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of The Seafarer at the Boston Center for the Arts. SpeakEasy has made a specialty of local productions of works recently premiered in New York (and more recently, London). I’ve come to expect a pretty decent standard, although generally nothing too surprising.

This particular production didn’t really change my perception, although the group certainly wasn’t helped by the substandard play which, although has some successful comedic elements, is in the end little more than a rehash of A Christmas Carol. D and I argued about the merits of the play itself, which felt poorly paced, clumsy, and completely unconvincing. No doubt better direction would have improved my reaction, although still not enough I think to cover up its defects. Ben Brantley’s review of the original New York production in the Times emphasizes the superlative acting he saw, which certainly would also have helped.

As it was, there were drawbacks to both the production and acting in SpeakEasy’s production. For one, the two leads didn’t give any sense of being brothers with a long history, thus cutting out the pivotal relationship in the play. The acting in general was adequate (although most of the Irish accents seemed a bit off to me), but the only one among the cast who was really convincing was Billy Meleady as the central character, Sharky. His wiry tension and buried anger were so well delineated that in the climactic scene when Sharky explodes it feels like a completely natural release.

Ah well. Not much else to say. The production ended last weekend, but a set of highly complimentary reviews have been collected on SpeakEasy’s website, including the Globe’s and the Phoenix’s. Haven’t come across anything I’m looking forward to in town next year in theater, but I’ll probably try to catch one of the shows at the A.R.T.

Rocca in the South End

I’ve been meaning to post about Rocca for a while now. Rocca opened around the end of summer 2007, but I went there for the first time about a month and a half ago not knowing anything about it. It turns out I agreed with quite a bit of the Boston Globe‘s review (including the astute observation that “In the South End, do not underestimate the power of the [parking] lot. Barring outright badness, this convenience ensures Rocca’s success.”). Anyway, it seems not much has changed in the year since it’s been open. In general the appetizers I had were so-so. The farinata (“chickpea flatbread with mushrooms, caramelized onions & sage”) was both overly salty and overly greasy. The fried cauliflower had none of the lightness of a good tempura and was also overly salty. The pastas we had fared better, including the potato gnocchi with mushrooms and the butternut squash pasta (a special, I believe). A enjoyed his hanger steak (a special?), but otherwise we were left unimpressed with both the food and the less-than-average service. (And it looks like the yelpers agree too.) The trip did remind me that it’s been too long since I’ve gone out to relatively new restaurants, so I’ll be trying to make more of a point to do so in the near future.