Edward Albees 1975 Seascape is a trenchant look at the dynamics of long-term couples as well as humankinds continued development. This Pulitzer Prize-winning script is warmer, funnier and less acerbic than Albees norm, but its delicate balance of the mundane and the absurd still needs astute direction and a strong cast. South Stream Productions provides both. Its accessible, sympathetic staging should have audiences singing, Whos afraid of Edward Albee? all the way home.
The plays first act finds long-married Nancy and Charlie picnicking on the beach, each contemplating whats to come in their retirement years. Nancy wants adventure and constant change, but Charlie just wants to relax and rest quietly in one spot. Nancy tries to get Charlie to see things her way, first with teasing, then with logic and finally with insult, to no avail.
Everything changes at the end of the first act when two giant sea lizards suddenly appear. The second act turns into an amusing satire in which the human couple tries to educate the lizard couple (they happen to speak English) about life above water. Conversely, the reptilian pair, Sarah and Leslie, try to understand such things as caring for children (theirs just float away) and what being decent means (they dont understand clothing). The play has knee-slapping humor and forehead-smacking insight, both signaling that we should never stop seeking to understand and experience our world.
Director Brook North confidently brings out the scripts many nuances and yet keeps the pacing tight, fully utilizing Todd Houseknechts impressive sand-dune setting. Julie Oliver gives Nancy great compassion in her attempts to keep Charlie from giving up on life, making her a character the audience avidly roots for. John Honeycutt plays Charlies crusty irritations well and is moving as he recounts Charlies fantasies of living underwater.
Ryan Brocks Leslie becomes hilariously suspicious and feisty as he confronts the differences of land life. Samantha Coreys Sarah is dutifully subservient but more openly curious; her heart-rending discovery of what love means is the shows emotional center. Shannon Clarks lizard costumes are marvelously creative, a major element in the shows success.
On the strength of Seascape, only the second show by this young company, area audiences can anticipate more theatrical riches from such knowing hands.