Review: SEASCAPES at Berkshire Theatre Group

A Ray of Sunshine as Autumn Leaves Fall

By: Oct. 03, 2022
Review: SEASCAPES at Berkshire Theatre Group

Edward Albee's works are often considered frank examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a mastery and Americanization of the Theatre of the Absurd that found its peak in works by European playwrights such as Samuel Beckett.

Winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize, Edward Albee's SEASCAPE brings true eloquence to its compelling yet subtle examination of the very meaning and significance of life itself. Told with Edward Albee's signature ironic wit and razor-sharp perception and directed by Eric Hill, SEASCAPE finds Nancy and Charlie, a middle-aged couple, on a deserted stretch of beach, relaxing after a picnic lunch, talking idly about home, family and their life together. She sketches, he naps, and then, suddenly, they are joined by two lizards who have decided to leave the ocean depths and come ashore. Initial fear, and then suspicion of each other, are soon replaced by curiosity and, before long, the humans and the lizards are engaged in a fascinating dialogue. The lizards are contemplating the terrifying, yet exciting, possibility of embarking on life out of the water; and the couple are contemplating long-term love, the changing expectations that come with Charlie's imminent retirement and whether they can continue into this final life-stage together. The answers are given with warmth, humor and poetic eloquence. The emotional and intellectual reverberations will linger in the heart and mind long after the play has ended.

Review: SEASCAPES at Berkshire Theatre Group
Corrina May and David Adkins
Photo: Jacey Rae Russell

Much of the first act is spent examining Charlie and Nancy newly embarked on their quest for the "good life" that many expect comes with retirement. Despite having spent many years together working side-by-side to reach their golden years, the couple are at odds as to how the time should now be filled. Corinna May plays Nancy. She brings an energy and lust for living a full and rich chapter in which the pair will very actively explore and experience as much as possible. She is quite vocal and freely shares many creative and involved scenarios. David Adkins plays Charlie. The two actors deliver admirable performances. They appear to be a close pair most comfortable with one another. As Nancy's shares thoughts at a rapid and excited pace, Charlie humors her but grows seemingly more annoyed as time goes by and eventually, he suggests that he is perfectly content doing nothing - absolutely nothing. Soon we find ourselves wondering what if anything is actually keeping Charlie and Nancy together. Suddenly in comes a new couple, unlike any Charlie, Nancy, and most likely any of us have ever encountered before. Leslie, played by Tim Jones, and Sarah, played by Kate Goble, are new to the area. What was barely a two-way conversation expands as the two couples learn about one another. Their similarities, their differences, and perhaps, ultimately - how things that may appear to be very different are in fact, quite similar.

Review: SEASCAPES at Berkshire Theatre Group
Corinna May and David Adkins
Photo: Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware

The creative team consists of direction by Eric Hill, movement direction by Isadora Wolfe, resident scenic design by Randall Parsons, costume design by Elivia Bovenzi Blitz, lighting design by Matthew E. Adelson, resident composer and sound design by Scott Killian, stage-managed by Caroline Stamm and assistant stage-managed by Samantha Leahan.

I like pieces that make the viewer think. Typically, I don't care much for works that fall into the realm of existentialism, theatre of the absurd, and the like. SEASCAPE, however, is different. Perhaps because it is primarily focused on interpersonal communication. Also, the characters, for the most part are dynamic, interesting, and rather unusual. So much so, I found myself being drawn in and becoming quite eager to learn more and more about them. There is a fair amount of fun and laughter along the way. Great sound, sets, costumes, lighting, and even make-up help as well. By the time the play concluded the synergy kicked in and I found myself rather satisfied.

SEASCAPE continues on the Larry Vaber stage at Berkshire Theatre Group's Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge through October 23.