Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Sea

There's only one way to describe the New York premiere of Edward Bond's 1973 play: A complete washout. To steal (and modify) a line from Pauline Kael, director Scott Alan Evans directs this production--which could have been a very promising endeavor--as if he had never seen a play before. Rather than mining an intriguing plot (the aftermath of a deadly shipwreck and its effect on the locals in 1907 coastal England) for any real kinetic spark, he has the actors aimlessly wander around the stage, occasionally breaking to rearrange a few chairs and dressers that act as the scenery. Bond's language is very particular--it is heightened to the point of farce, even during the play's more serious moments--and only a handful of the people in the large cast seem to understand how it should be executed. The general cluelessness of the rest caused an uncomfortable silence to permeate throughout the evening. Highest praise goes to Gregory Salata, terrifically playing the stock role of a wise and misunderstood outsider, and lighting designers Mary Louise Geiger and Lucrezia Briceno, who kept it bright enough so that those who remained after intermission didn't fall asleep.

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