BWW Review: See SEACAPE at 2ND STORY THEATRE
SEASCAPE, Edward Albee's 1975 Pulitzer Prize-winning comic-drama is getting a very entertaining production at Warren's 2nd Story Theatre. SEASCAPE is a quirky, compelling examination of the meaning of life, how we got, and where we go, from here. On a deserted beach, an older couple (Ed Shea and Susan Bowen Powers) encounters two humanesque sea creatures (Valerie Westgate and Charles Lafond) contemplating the evolutionary leap to dry land. Ironically, it's the human couple, for whom existence has grown flat and routine, who holds the answers to the inquisitive amphibians' naive yet probing questions, which in turn helps the humans answer their own. If I have neglected to say so thus far, this thing is hilarious.
In a 1991 interview, Albee said, "All my plays are about people missing the boat." While the couple on the beach, Charlie and Nancy, has not quite missed the boat, they do seem to be missing out on something. The first twenty minutes is almost all Nancy trying to provoke some response from Charlie, to shake him out of what she sees as his humdrum existence. He wants no part of it; he just want to take a nap. Even in her perturbed state, Nancy Grudgingly concedes, "You've been a good husband, more or less." Up to this point, SEASCAPE is thirty minute, good-natured squabble-"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" Lite.
Sarah and Leslie, the semi-human amphibious creatures (and what fun costume designer Ron Cesario must have had dressing them!) emerge from the sea difficulties ensue. At first, poor Charlie and Nancy are terrified-who wouldn't be? In a panic, Charlie urges Nancy to grab him a stick to defend them. She comes up with a twenty-inch long twig. threatened, Leslie responds by picking up a much heavier, much longer tree limb. SEASCAPE then evolves (get it, evolves?) into an exploration of the other, evolution, and the meaning of life, as the two couples get to know each other and themselves better.
It has to be funny to make it work, and this cast can make it funny. Powers has what almost amounts to a fifteen-minute monologue (Shea's Charlie is avoiding answering her) on ennui, and, when he gets the chance, Ed Shea panics and sputters like a champ. Lafond has his moments as Leslie, ready to defend his honor and his tail. Valerie Westgate, she of the rubber face and perfect comic pitch, cannot not be funny. It's a strong ensemble, led by Shea and Westgate.
2nd Story has created a beach in the upstairs theatre, but don't bring a pail and shovel; Max Ponticelli has spun it out of canvas and linoleum under murals of blue sky an a few wispy clouds. In his pre-play speech, Ponticelli promised free popcorn to anyone who shows up in beach attire.
SEASCAPE by Edward Albee runs Upstage at 2nd Story Theatre until a matinee performance on February 5 at 2:30. Performances are at 7:30 Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30. Running time is a pithy one hour and twenty minutes with an intermission. If you are interested in talking about the play, a post play discussion is scheduled after the matinee January 22. Tickets are $35.00, $25.00 for anyone twenty-five or younger, and $20.00 for those who have the foresight to go on preview weekend (too late for this show). 2nd Story Theatre is located at 28 Market St., in Warren. The box office can be reached at 401. 247. 4200 or at www.2ndStoryTheatre.com. The venue is handicap accessible with lovely accessible bathrooms on both floors.