Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 3, 2022

REVIEW: Berkshire Theatre Festival, "Edward Albee’s “Seascape”

Berkshire Theatre Festival – Unicorn Stage, Stockbridge, MA
through October 23, 2022
by Jarice Hanson

Photo by Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware
What happens when you put a married couple in their not-quite-later-life years on a beach, only to find that the most engaging interactions they have are not with each other, but rather, with a couple of lizards? In the fertile mind of Edward Albee, the answer is not only self-examination, but a treatise on life itself.

For those who are new to Albee, “Seascape” is a lot to absorb, but if you know the author’s body of work, this play, which won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize, reflects some of his most common themes, like two couples whose generations are marked by social and cultural values, and the irony of humanity as a self-reflexive activity.

In the Berkshire Theatre Group’s production of “Seascape” David Adkins and Corinna May play the married couple, Charlie and Nancy, who know how to goad each other into an argument. Act I is entirely a window into their lives and despite their repartee, we see the characters as the couple they have become, rather than the individuals who were initially drawn together. 

Then, just before intermission, Tim Jones and Kate Goble, as two lizards, Leslie and Sarah appear, and the proverbial plot thickens. Act II features some of Albee’s most insightful dialog and this foursome masterfully mine the humor and raise the question of which couple represents “the beast.” All four actors play their roles beautifully, but Jones’ physicality is mind-boggling as he crawls from level to level with lizard-esque ease.

Director Eric Hill and the production team that includes Movement Director Isadora Wolfe, Scenic Designer Randall Parsons, Costume Designer Elivia Bovenzi Blitz (who should get a special shout-out for the magnificent lizard costumes), Lighting Designer Matthew E. Adelson, and Composer/Sound Designer Scott Killian (who provided seat-rattling sound effects that bring the audience into the tension of the moment) all contribute to the suggestion of reality in an unrealistic and absurd situation.    

The press announcement quotes The New Yorker; “Of all Mr. Albee’s plays, 'Seascape' is the most exquisitely written'.”  That statement may be true, but it takes an audience with a little Albee-savvy and a willingness to explore humanity from an inter-species perspective to give oneself to this type of theatrical experience. But in a world in which space aliens and super-heroes dominate popular culture, “Seascape” fits the zeitgeist.  

A special sensory-friendly performance will take place on October 13.