Seascape at Remy Bumppo

 

By Edward Albeeedward albee

Directed by Nick Sandys

Produced by Remy Bumppo think theatre

At the Greenhouse Theatre, Chicago

Thought provoking, witty and totally engaging Albee work

Some escape to the sea.
Some escape from it.

Utilizing an amazingly effective beach-like set (design by Angela Weber Miller), Remy Bumppo and director Nick Sandys have mounted an outstanding production of Edward Albee’s fantasy play Seascape. This provocative work finds Albee’s scintillating language combining personal truths with generous humor  without  spoiling the play’s meaning.

remy bumppo

Edward Albee’s 1975 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Seascape, is another major achievement for Remy Bumppo think theatre which has renewed vigor with Nick Sandys at the helm as artistic director.

Seascape is an expressionistic comedy laced with two unusual creatures. We meet an aging couple on the brink of retirement sunning themselves on a beach. Nancy (the amazing  Annabel Armour) wants to live the rest of her life  hopping around the globe at beach sides since she has an attraction for being near the water. Charlie (the charming Patrick Clear) just wants to relax and do nothing. The two debate the meaning of their lives as they approach old age. Nancy wants adventure, Charlie craves contentment and peace. The show is filled with Albee’s ascorbic wit, honesty, and clever humor.

edward albee

Albee has given several clever speeches to both characters about the meaning of life as one reflects back to their younger years. Charlie’s description of how he would sink to the bottom of a swimming pool or lake waters slowly and sit on the bottom until his air ran out observing things above as they floated by was insightful. Nancy’s early dreams involved being a woman and doing all the ‘woman’ things. These early scenes had touches of satire, melancholy and light comedy. Nancy is a high energy ‘doer’ bent on adventure.

Just when we think the couples have reached some agreement after an argument, they are visited by two humanoid lizards who have evolved from the depths of the sea and are no longer content with living under water and now want to relocate to dry land.

This fantasy turns absurdist as it produces laughs and insights into fear, prejudice and understanding. Rachel Laritz’s  lizard customs were amazingly real;  they fit skin-tight. Add lizard-like movements from Sarah (Emjoy Gavino), as the woman lizard in  brown and green scales and long tail.  Sean Parris is the protective, suspicious male lizard, Leslie goes manic when alarmed. Both Sarah and Leslie exhibit lizard-like squatting and quirky head movements. Albee never fully explains the lizards. How can the lizards actually speak English, etc.?

Could encounters with aliens be similar to this? Are the human couple fantasizing or maybe dead? The interaction is funny and plausible. The hopeful ending is rare for an Albee play. What makes Seascape work is the terrific cast. The lizards correctly never over-play their roles. Imagine a upper middle aged human couple engaging in a dialogue about the nature of relationships, emotions and evolution with two lizards. This bizarre show is funny and thought provoking.

This is a peculiar play that delivers a message that needs to be heard in these times of conflict and misunderstanding with those who are different from us. Albee’s comments on retirement will give many theatre patrons something the dwell upon. Should retirees stay passive or become adventurous; should they revert back to their childhood fun or just remember when they enjoyed such fun? But I believe that Albee wants us to think about how we can conquer our differences by evoking open mindedness and embarrassing an adventurous spirit.  See this show and then you’ll be able to answer for yourself. Annabel Armour and Patrick Clear are outstanding here.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date  Reviewed: September 20, 2012

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Seascape page at theatreinchicago.com

At the Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL,  call 773-244-8119, www.remybumppo.orgb, tickets $42.50 – $52.50, Wednesday thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2;30 pm, special matinees -call for details, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission, through October 14, 2012