CHICAGO, Thursday, September 20, 2012. While not exactly "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", Edward Albee's "Seascape" which opened Monday night at Chicago's Greenhouse Theater Center does revolve around the relationship of a bickering mature couple--employing a variation on a favorite Albee theme of a marital foursome sparring back and forth.
This time around the interchange steps into the world of the surreal when Nancy (Remy Bumppo Artistic Associate Annabel Armour, who won a Best Actress Jeff for The Goat) and her curmudgeonly grumpy spouse Charlie (Patrick Clear whose work at Remy Bumppo includes Tartuffe and Bronte)--are cast as a very human newly-retired couple basking on a beach (a more rational kind of Martha and George) when they come face to face with a couple of anthropomorphic sea lizards.
The giant amphibians named Sarah (Emjoy Gavino) and Leslie (Sean Parris), who just happen to speak excellent English, enter the stage near the end of act one and begin to engage in an inter-species dialogue with their human counterparts, Nancy and Charlie. The parallels become evident as the humans are debating escaping to the sea while the lizards are in the long process of escaping from it illustrating the constant evolution in the world.
In a leap of faith, the Albee tale with its seemingly absurd human-lizard speak works as a vehicle to shed light on the serious topics of the play.
Artistic Director Nick Sandys, in his first season in the AD role for Remy Bumppo, has put together a finely tuned production. His selection of the multi-award winning Annabel Armour opposite Patrick Clear is a clear win. Their perfect blend of chemistry as a couple contrasts beautifully with their younger sentient counterparts Emjoy Gavino whose expressive face and graceful movements are a joy to behold; and Sean Parris (in the role for which Frank Langella won a Tony in the original Broadway production) whose deft prowess performing physical comedy is a work of art.
"Seascape" originally written and performed in 1975, explores many of Albee’s signature themes with a somewhat whimsical touch, along with sharp-edged dialogue and intelligence while peppering the script with a generous sprinkling of humor--all qualities that were skillfully captured in the Sandys' production.
The production team, under the direction of Sandys, with scenic design by Angela Weber Miller, costumes by Rachel Laritz, original music and sound by Victoria Delorio, lighting by Michael McNamara and properties by Jenny Pinson and Stage Manager Samantha L. Symon works together like a well oiled machine. The entire 2-hour "Seascape" revival provides a delightful evening of theatrical entertainment that once again proves theater in Chicago is second to none.
Tickets for the regular run are: $42.50-$47.50 (Wed-Thu-Fri); $47.50-$52.50 (Sat-Sun); Between the Lines: $57.50. Student tickets: $15 (all performances except Between the Lines). Group discounts: available for parties of 10 or more. Call 773-244-8119 x 302. The Greenhouse Box Office, 773-404-7336 (open at noon Wed.-Sun.) or online. Greenhouse Theater Center - Upstairs Mainstage, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Through October 14, 2012.
The former Children's Memorial Hospital garage, 1/2 block north of the theater on Lincoln Avenue, is making 100 parking spaces available free to the public for up to five hours, on a first-come, first-served basis. Or on-street parking along Lincoln Avenue is usually available--just remember to pay at the pay box until 9p.m. and put the receipt on the passenger side of your car.