Chicago Theater Review: SEASCAPE (Remy Bumppo)

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by Lawrence Bommer on September 18, 2012

in Theater-Chicago


A wonderfully questioning work from 1975, Edward Albee’s whimsical, Pulitzer-winning domestic drama literally reflects our world as seen by diametrical couples.

Seascape meets landscape on the neutral ground of a coastal beach: The result is an inter-species double date. Albee first presents Nancy and Charlie: A mature terrestrial couple, they’re torn between spending their remaining years settling in to a reliable retirement or striking out to new adventures. Putting their plight in perspective are Leslie and Sarah, a reptilian couple (garbed in Rachel Laritz’ wonderful lizard ware) who provide a lesson in emotional relativism. The sprawling, convincing setting is Angela Weber Miller’s panoramic cove, with the sea stage right and the sand dunes stage left.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Remy Bumppo’s SEASCAPE in ChicagoNancy and Charlie are land-dwellers, mired in mid-life crises and the constant challenge of living in the present, and dogged by the human obsession to do things to prove you’re happy. (Do these creatures really deserve to own the earth?, is the implied accusation.) The twosome conjure up escapist fantasies of living beneath the sea, their inadvertent way of acknowledging how much they’ve used up the land. That fantasy made real, Leslie and Sarah are middle-aged, English-speaking lizards who learn what love is like from the more emotionally-savvy earth creatures. But their sense of belonging in their brave new world is an implied indictment of Nancy and Charlie’s self-defeating world weariness.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Remy Bumppo’s SEASCAPE in ChicagoIf the humanoids are devolving with their marriage, the lizard lovers, brought together by sexual selection rather than love, are evolving to find their literal place in the sun. Urgent with a self-sustaining drive to exist, Leslie and Sarah are a wake-up call to rouse Nancy and Charlie from their complacency on the food chain.

Theater never feels more persuasive than when it gives a second chance to seekers who never thought they’d get one. And here the argument is extended to life itself: Charlie refers to the continual turbulence or “flux” that shapes our lives but whether it’s for the better, he can’t be sure: “Progress,” he pronounces, “is a set of assumptions.” But that, of course, is the pipe dream that keeps us going.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of Remy Bumppo’s SEASCAPE in ChicagoNick Sandys stages this mirror-vision exercise in altruism with all the delicacy that the discoveries deserve. If the play seems, ironically, a tad drier than 37 years ago, its portrait of premature evolution and human flux still fits us like skin and scales. Annabel Armour and Patrick Clear, master thespians, capture the rueful regrets and conditional happiness of the two-footed twosome, while, slithering amid their scales, Sean Parris and Emjoy Gavino are delightfully inquisitive as two very evolving iguanas. There goes the “neighborhood”—another word for progress.


photos by Johnny Knight

Remy Bumppo Theatre Company at Greenhouse Theatre
scheduled to end on October 14, 2012
for tickets call 773-404-7336 or visit

for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit

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