The play is beautifully written, but it now seems to me to be a bit too crafted, too heavily laden with analogies and grandly significant gestures.
InterAct Theatre Company, The Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St., through Oct. 19, 893-1145.
Since A Delicate Balance in 1966, the characters in Edward Albee's plays don't actually do things so much as sit around and talk about themselves, one another and their relationships. At least George and Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962) actually did something, even if it was only getting at each other and their guests with fangs bared; but Agnes and Tobias in A Delicate Balance, the couple in The Marriage Play, and the three women (or rather, the three ages of the same woman) in Three Tall Women, just analyze, storytell, allegorize, metaphorize, and talk, and talk.
Seascape, which earned Albee his second of three Pulitzers in 1975, is like that, too. Well, half of it is. Nancy (Hayden Saunier, in InterAct's current production) sits on the beach painting; Charlie (Tim Moyer) is stretched out sunbathing. Nancy wants to take off, now that the children are grown and the number of grandchildren burgeoning, and wander the beaches of the world; Charlie is happy doing nothing ("IjustCharlie feels "we've earned a little rest"; Nancy feels "we've earned a little life."
And so they talk around in circles about their past, their present, and their future. It's lovely talk - Charlie's wistful memories of sitting on the bottom of the swimming pool; Nancy's bitter memories of counting the moles on Charlie's back during his extended episode of depression, while contemplating having an affair. Through all the talk they act out the push and pull of their years of marriage. But it's still all just talk.
And then Albee springs on us a device that both enlivens the proceedings and gives Nancy and Charlie the means to move forward in their lives and their marriage: they are visited by two enormous lizards, a married couple named Leslie and Sarah (Bruce Burton Robinson and Catharine Slusar). Nancy and Charlie have to explain wombs and breasts; Leslie and Sarah have to explain eggs and courtship dances. And what each couple has to explain to the other they begin to understand themselves - about love, commitment and the courage to stand up on one's hind legs and to reach out and take someone else's forefoot.
It's a lovely, beautifully written play. And it receives a first-rate mounting by Seth Rozin, who directs the play for the second time, after staging it as InterAct's premier production nine years ago.
And yet - maybe it's just me - after repeated exposures, the play now seems to me to be a bit too crafted, too heavily laden with analogies, resonant metaphors, indirectly pertinent stories and grandly significant gestures. And, never mind the heavy-handed Darwinian (or, more accurately, Lamarckian) evolution metaphor of the play's final movement: the big deal they all make of Leslie and Sarah's decision to come ashore and stand up seems, after the long celebration of differences and fresh perspectives, a bit (dare I say) speciesist.
Still, Saunier and Moyer drift into their memories and reveries and bickerings with conviction. And Robinson and Slusar (in wonderful lizard suits designed by Larisa Ratnikoff) physicalize the otherworldliness of Leslie and Sarah marvelously, with tongues darting, piercing stares that don't quite make fully human eye contact, elbows out and front feet flopping. The acting and the production values (set by Andrei Efremoff, lights by Peter Whinnery) are as high as anything that could be seen at the Adrienne during its earlier incarnation as the original Wilma Theater.
-Cary M. Mazer