The living rooms in "The Homecoming" by Harold Pinter, "The Lieutenant of Inishmore" by Martin McDonagh, and in this play, "The Seafarer" by Conor McPherson are as scroungy, grotty, and disreputable as the males who inhabit these dumpy premises. The house is north of Dublin. Some plays can be read and enjoyed as a partial substitute for seeing a live performance, but after reading this one, I realize it is essential to see a live presentation to get the full import of this play. It is an actor's dream for the current five man ensemble on Broadway because the stage business is as powerful as the lines.
There is a Faustian pact element to the story. The central focus is on Sharky, a loser, who lives with his blind brother. Two visitors and a mysterious fifth man, Mr. Lockhart, gather together Christmas Eve day and night and get extremely drunk. They play cards, money is lost, and the story opens up to the audience. Some of this is familiar territory, and the plot is not too complicated. Lockhart probably has the best lines, but the other characters would be a joy to watch. There is great comedy here along with the more serious stuff. The characters are beautifully crafted, and they are a decidedly odd bunch. Each one a piece of work in his own peculiar way.
As in most plays, secrets from the past are unearthed and become grist for the dramatist's mill. When Lockhart and Sharky are alone, Lockhart reminds him of a card game they had in the past. For these two and the audience the game of cards becomes a transforming experience. The play is well worth a read but try to see it on stage if at all possible. It would make a great movie or television play, but, I think, the audience would be limited.