Matthew was last seen at Quotidian in Conor McPherson’s The Birds. The Night Alive centers on his character, Tommy.
“You said it Marvin. What’s going on? That is the question.”
I say that line in The Night Alive. The question isn’t “to be or not to be?” The question is “What’s goin’ on”? It is such a funny, cryptic, tongue in cheek, yet brilliant and deep question. As Tommy, Aimee and Doc dance onstage, I can feel McPherson giggling, because at the end of this gem, the audience wants to know “What the heck is goin’ on? What just happened?”
For me, it is the question that hangs over Tommy’s life and throughout the play. What has happened to me? How did I get to this state? I am estranged from my wife and my kids. My get-rich plans have not worked out, to say the least. I try so hard, yet I live in complete and cluttered bedlam. What is goin’ on indeed? Tommy is simply trying to do the best he can, yet his world is a swirling mass of chaos. In a split second decision, he helps Aimee, who has just been assaulted, by bringing her into his flat. This action sets his life spinning in ways that at times seem out of control and at others seem destined by fate.
At rehearsals, we kept unearthing enigmatic, cryptic, and magical ideas: Is this whole thing a metaphor with Maurice as God and Kenneth as the Snake in the Garden? Are these characters spiraling into a black hole? Kenneth does describe the darkness outside Tommy’s flat that way. Has time slowed down for these characters and have they crossed over into something otherworldly? As an actor, I have loved exploring these ideas, but ultimately the beauty of this play is the humanity of these people. It’s a play about people, plain and simple, and my flawed and kindly Tommy is a joy to embody.