Review: SEASCAPE at NM Actors Lab

Sea and Sand and ...... Lizards? Oh My!

By: Sep. 11, 2023
Review: SEASCAPE at NM Actors Lab
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Edward Albee’s Seascape: Sand and Sea and………Lizards? Oh My!

New Mexico Actors Lab September 6 - 24, 2023

When preparing to go see Edward Albee’s Seascape, the season opener for New Mexico Actors Lab, my 14-year-old asked me what he should expect. I told him that most Edward Albee plays seem like perfectly normal human interactions….that suddenly takes a weird, shocking or unexpected turn. Seascape is no exception to that rule.

The play begins innocently enough with Nancy (Leslie Harrell Dillen) painting on the beach while talking with Charlie (Robert Nott), her husband. The two are empty nesters, retired and beginning to plan the next phase of their life together. Nancy feels that they should try a nomadic lifestyle, traveling from beach to beach around the world – after all, they have nothing holding them back and nothing but time. Charlie takes a more pragmatic view, telling Nancy that she would more than likely hate this way of living, when the truth is it probably won’t suit him at all. The two spend a good bit of time talking AT each other, with very little listening going on from either side. One gets the sense that this is a conversation they have had and rehashed many times before.

As stated earlier, Albee’s plays seem to be perfectly normal, until they aren’t, and here’s the twist in Seascape. Nancy and Charlie are so wrapped up in their “you always… never” conversation that they don’t realize they are no longer alone on the beach. Without giving away too much of the plot, they are joined by another couple that is decidedly different from them in every way. Leslie (Hania Stocker) and Sarah (Emily Rankin) have ventured to this beach for the first time and are fascinated by Nancy and Charlie. They are naïve to the ways of the world and are eager to learn. Both Nancy and Charlie have to figure out the best way to communicate and explain things to this couple, a task that is a challenge for both of them, given their years of waiting to talk instead of listening to each other. It’s also farcical to see how readily this seemingly normal couple stuck in a rut accept the newcomers on the beach.

The director’s note says that “What we are invited to witness, sitting in our seats on the shifting space between the fanciful and the actual, is nothing less than Albee’s version of Evolution; or perhaps as he additionally posited, ‘Devolution.’ We are free to choose.”

The interplay between all four actors is excellent; their ability to take the huge volume of Albee’s words and interpret them so that the audience is not bored, but drawn deeper into the action, is impressive. The set is minimal; there are no effects to draw the eye – everything that makes this play successful relies on the four performers. This ensemble does not disappoint – they keep the conversation flowing and invite the audience into this weird and wonderful interaction.

Special kudos to Talia Pura for her amazing costumes and to the makeup team as well – Leslie and Sarah look otherworldly, which only makes it funnier when they open their mouths and utter perfectly “normal” dialogue. The lighting design by Skip Rapoport is appropriately bright and beachy, making the interaction between the two couples seem safe and not sinister in any way.

Seascape runs a fast 85 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are available at All performances are at the Lab Theater, 1213 Parkway Drive, one block north of Meow Wolf.

Once again New Mexico Actors Lab has made a great choice to open their season. Next up is The Nether by Jennifer Haley October 11-29.


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