Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.


Annie Houston, Brian Crane and Mundy Spears
Seascape earned Edward Albee the second of his three Pulitzer Prizes, but the 1974 play is seldom seen because of practical considerations. American Century Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, has done a service by presenting a clear and vivid production of the play, thanks to Steven Scott Mazzola's sure direction and four actors who understand the interplay between realism and fantasy.

Albee begins with an aging couple, Charlie (Craig Miller) and Nancy (Annie Houston), on a deserted Long Island beach. In the overly civilized manner of Albee's patrician characters in A Delicate Balance and other plays, the two people discuss their past and what they see in their future—seemingly aimless comments that add up to a portrait of their lives together. Specifically, Charlie wants to settle down and escape the stresses of daily life, while Nancy dreams of adventure.

Then, they are faced with a challenge they could never have anticipated: the arrival of two human-size lizards who, as it happens, are not only fluent in English, but eloquent. Leslie (Brian Crane) and Sarah (Mundy Spears) are sea creatures in the process of deciding whether to move to land or stay where they are.

The rest of the play concerns the attempts on both sides to establish a rapport. Leslie and Sarah are a devoted couple (who, among other things, can communicate with each other through telepathy), but they have no awareness of life on land. While Charlie remains aloof, Nancy tries to teach the newcomers about the realities they will have to face.

Houston's fluid, finely boned face projects every emotion, in counterpoint to Miller's detachment and wry, vaguely cynical attitude. Crane and Spears succeed in making their fantastic characters both realistic and funny, working ably within Melanie Clark's costumes (spiny back ridge, long thick tail and all) and Lynn Sharp-Spears' makeup.

Mazzola sets his characters in relief against the vastness of the empty beach and wide-open sea and sky, represented by a curved screen and plain floor designed by Hannah J. Crowell. Andrew F. Griffin's mostly naturalistic lighting design shifts almost subliminally to heighten the emotion of specific scenes.

American Century Theatre
July 30th —August 22nd
By Edward Albee
Nancy: Annie Houston
Charlie: Craig Miller
Leslie: Brian Crane
Sarah: Mundy Spears
Directed by Steven Scott Mazzola
Gunston Theatre II, 2700 S. Lang St.
Arlington, VA 22206
Ticket Information: 703-553-8782 or

Photo: Micah Hutz Photography

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