A Different Emotional Wave
Isn’t it strange how one person’s death can alter the lives of everyone else around them? In East Anglia, a coastal town of laughable eccentrics, playwright Edward Bond reminds us that farce and despair go hand in hand when one life ends and others are set to begin.
The opening scene of director Eda Holmes meticulously calculated production can’t help but look suspiciously Shakespearean with a shipwreck and drowning giving way to a fiancé’s inescapable grieving.
The focal point shifts to a Hatch (Patrick Galligan), a two scoops of crazy fabric store owner convinced that aliens are amongst us and Mrs. Rafi (Fiona Reid), a tempestuous community figure who refuses to pay for her drapery order. When she later insists ‘Stop trying to sound like a woman with an interesting past. Nothing has ever happened to you. That is a tragedy. But it hardly qualifies you to give advice,’ playgoers involuntarily roar over her heightened sense of aloofness.
Caught up in the crossfire are Rose (Julia Course), the surviving wife to be and Willy (Wade Bogert-O’Brien), a close friend of the deceased. The loss they share may turn out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.
Patrick Galligan sends a spine shiver as the snarly ‘wrong in the head’ messenger of supposed truth. It’s a refreshing role for an actor who audiences are accustomed to seeing play the nice guy. Yet this almost looks like a role written for the humourously red hot Fiona Reid by the way she just gets the character’s headspace so shamelessly.
With precipitous mood oscillations that will keep you guessing until the end how this one ends, The Sea rolls in on a different emotional wave than what the Shaw Festival traditionally rides out in the Court House Theatre. For a comedy that wants to be a tragedy—or vice-versa—this can only be viewed as a good thing, not a bad thing.
Review by Steven Berketo