“Don’t give up hope. You must still change the world.” -THE SEA
#61. Theatre Mir presents THE SEA. A violent storm hits a seaside village. The squall drowns one of the town’s own and sends in a replacement. A stranger floats into the close-knit community. He insists that he is best friends with the dead guy. The city matriarch believes him. The village draper not so much. He thinks the new guy is an alien and must be killed. Meanwhile, the dead guy’s fiance is starting to feel something for the new guy. It’s day to day living and dying in a quirky little town. THE SEA changes everything and nothing.
On arrival, Scenic Designer Michael Mroch and Sound Designer Thomas Dixon set the oceanside mood. The stage is an expansive boardwalk. On the floor and overhead, washed-out planks give it a beach look. Dixon fills the room with a rolling surf. The audio illusion puts the audience at the edge of the waterfront. The backdrop of the stage, framed by the planks, is a broad horizontal shadowbox. Aided by Lighting Designer Jill Bowarchuk, Director Jonathan Berry frequently stages the townsfolk in Alfred-Hitchcock-like silhouettes during scene transitions. It’s a clever and amusing visual. On the left side of the stage, Berry seats characters not in the scene. They sit in a type of mini-theatre facing out at the real audience. The allegorical choice seems to reflect the townsfolk’s contentment to watch life happen as passive observers. Very cool!
Playwright Edward Bond created a town of eccentric people tethered together by locale. The dysfunctional misfits are sometimes funny and sometimes poignant. I had difficulty keeping the who-is-who straight. Names and affiliations were confusing. I kept returning to my program to figure it out. Sometimes I couldn’t. But the two most important reasons to see the show were clear. Rachel Slavick (Mrs. Rafi) and Patrice Egleston (Mrs. Tilehouse) are outstanding. Slavick plays bully with perfect theatrical flair and comedic timing. Egleston is the sweet buffoonish sidekick. The pairing is a marvelous arsenic-and-old-lace sisterhood. (I would love to see the twosome together again). In one of the most fascinating scenes of the show, Berry stages an uproarious funeral fight started by Slavick and Egleston. It’s hilarious because it’s funny and slightly disturbing.
THE SEA had some lulling effects especially in Act II with multiple long soliloquies. Still, THE SEA is at its best with big waves of Slavick and Egleston rocking the boat. Passage on the voyage is recommended.
Running Time: Two hours and fifteen minutes includes an intermission
At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont
Written by Edward Bond
Directed by Jonathan Berry
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 3:30pm
Thru April 15th
But Tickets at www.theaterwit.org