Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
Also see Fred's review of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The opening sequence finds Charlie (David Adkins) resting comfortably amid the craggy dunes and wild grass on a somewhere beach. He is sedentary yet quite happily so. His longtime wife Nancy (Corinna May) has a yen to still experience and wander a bit. The couple, somewhere on one side or the other of 60, seem to have had some wine and perhaps lunch on the sand near the shore. Charlie reflects on the time when, as a kid, he dabbled with a game of staying beneath pond or pool water as he tested out just how long he could stand to do so before coming up for air. Nancy pushes him to revisit that stunt and perhaps she will join, but he is not about to engage. Nancy and Charlie, partners forever, parry as he sits on a blanket and she does a bit of painting at her small easel situated on a sandy mound toward the back of the stage.
Randall Parsons' set for this play is simultaneously arresting and charming. The designer takes us to a familiar spot; those who visit New England beaches will find it familiar and inviting. Every so often, a jet roars by, which serves to punctuate an otherwise low-key atmosphere.
Toward the end of the first hour of the show, two lizards suddenly poke their heads out from behind a dune. Their dimensions, in terms of size, are quite human while their look is, well, lizard-like, complete with dark green "skin" and scales, too. Congratulations to costumer Elivia Bovenzi Blitz who devised these outfits. Tim Jones embodies Leslie, a male, and Kate Goble is the female, Sarah. Each showcases a large, cushy tail. Timid Charlie is terribly frightened while an amused Nancy welcomes the visitors. The act closes and, after intermission, no one has moved.
The second portion of the play features splendid, revealing conversation amongst the four participants. The humans and the creatures discover some common ground and they become intrigued and/or enlightened as well. Albee poses a complex question, one remaining vital decades after this play first came to the boards: Are living species able to communicate, listen to one another, and reach peaceful accord however wide-ranging their differences may be?
Seascape is richly layered and demands multi-level expertise. The actors move about spaces fluently, thanks to Hill, movement director Isadora Wolfe, and actor Jones who is also fight captain. The young people playing lizards must be malleable as they navigate the terrain. Tim Jones and Kate Goble are disciplined and endearing in these roles.
David Adkins and Corinna May are married in real life. Each brings a long series of performance credits to the Unicorn and each is persuasive, specific and dextrous. It is not surprising that each seems to intuit the other, much to the production's advantage.
Director Hill, his career filled with both triumphant acting and directing moments, provides symmetry to Albee's acumen. Augmenting his various skills, Hill is also, in the very best sense of the word, an intellectual and a man focused on details. He thinks critically and is an adept researcher. Note the eye contact between the two lizards when each surfaces and sees people within range. Watch for distinguishing handshakes between human beings and lizards. Eric Hill combines the cerebral with the imaginative all to the benefit of those who watch this transfixing show. The director is not, literally, on stage; one does, however, feel his keen presence.
Seascape runs through October 23, 2022, at Berkshire Theatre Group's Unicorn Theatre, 6 East St., Stockbridge MA. For information and tickets, call 413-997-4444 or visit www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org.