Friday, October 1, 2010

Seascape by Edward Albee (1975)

Summary:  Nancy and Charlie are a married couple with adult children, taking a holiday on the beach.  They discuss the state of their union, and are eventually startled by another couple in the distance.  As the other couple (Leslie and Sarah) becomes clear that they are creatures from the sea! 

Thoughts:  Thought number one:  Frank Langella (Leslie, original 1975 cast) as a merman?  What!?  Eventually, during an argument Charlie states, "All you're going to do is explain evolution to a couple of lizards."  This is the only hint at what these creatures might actually be. 

The entire first act is an examination of Nancy and Charlie's marriage and overall state of satisfaction with each other and the life they have created.  Neither one of them are tragically unhappy, but they both seem comfortably restless.  In typical Albee fashion, the dialogue is an accurate and moving representation of the way people actually fight with each other--sometimes rationally, often not.  When they eventually begin communicating with their new lizard acquaintances in Act 2, the relationships between couples and female/male allegiance are examined.  That is, Nancy comes to Charlie's defense because she is married to him...but also shares intimate secrets with Sarah because they are both child-bearing females.  Testosterone rages as Leslie and Charlie have a physical altercation.

This was, in the words of my professor Brian Herrera, a "WTF moment" for me.  Certainly both couples are interesting representations of marriage/partnership, but why creatures from the sea, Edward Albee?

"What do they call it...the primordial soup?  the glop?  That heartbreaking second when it all got together, the sugars and acids and the ultraviolets, and the next thing you knew there were tangerines and string quartets."

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