Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 17, 2010

Sea Marks

Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA
through September 4, 2010
by Shera Cohen

Not so long ago, people wrote letters. Corresponding back and forth in long hand and with a pen is something today's younger generation might think of as ancient. "Sea Marks," set in an era of pre-email, texting, and tweeting in the 1960's is, perhaps, a bit old fashioned - but that's what makes it especially lovely

The plot takes the audience from the seacoast of Ireland to the city of Liverpool, England. The locales could not be any more different. In this two-character play, it seems that Colm and Timothea could not be any more different as well. Colm shyly begins the correspondence, although he has only met Timothea once. She responds, officiously at first, because she doesn't even remember meeting this man. Not a good first impression. Yet, theirs is a growing and powerful love story. Nearly all of Act I is a series of letter writing, and, indeed, is the winning half of the play.

While Walton Wilson has been a regular at this theatre for many years, "Sea Marks" is his first starring role. Kristin Wold, a Shakespeare & Company veteran, can play just about every role with perfection and her Timothea is no exception. Wilson is an equal match for her. Both portray fragile, quiet, middle-aged strangers who do more than fill each other's loneliness. Each makes significant changes in their lives. Self-confidence begins to replace vulnerabilities as they take the risk to fall in love.

The play is sheer poetry, literally and figurative. The playwright could have easily written a book of sonnets in lieu of, or along with, the play. In fact, the language is the third profound "character." The simple earth color sets, soft lighting, and director Daniela Varon's juxtaposition of the lovers (particularly in Act I) subtly keep the plot flowing smoothly and slowly. Act II has a few speed bumps - some due to unnecessary verbiage about Timothea's ex, and others from quickening the pace just a bit too much in contrast to the exquisite Act I. Yet, nothing spoils the sweetness, simplicity, sadness, and joy of love and "Sea Marks."