The Night AliveAtlantic Theater Company, Off Broadway
BOTTOM LINE: The prolific Irish playwright and director Conor McPherson returns to the theater that is his off Broadway home with a dynamic ensemble led by actor Ciarán Hinds.
Ciarán Hinds knows how to play ruthless types. An imposing figure, he portrayed Big Daddy in last season’s Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He’s the fearsome tribal leader Mance Rayder in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” And more than once, he’s played the Devil himself, including the last time he opened a Conor McPherson play in New York, in 2007’s The Seafarer. But in the newest McPherson premiere, The Night Alive, which the playwright directs at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater, Hinds’ intimidating bulk belies the fact that his character this time, a working class, Dublin ne’er-do-well named Tommy, is in reality a small, broken man in a downward spiral. With shifting eyes and a defensive crouch, Hinds’ performance is an astonishing study in heartrending defeat.