Chicago Theatre Review
‘Seascape’ at Promethean Too Smart or Too Dull?
By Devlyn Camp
Promethean Theatre Ensemble is nuzzled back in its spot at Live Bait Theater (previously The Artistic Home) for two-person play Seascape with Sharks and Dancer. The incomplex but smart piece follows a lonely writer, Ben (Nick Lake), as he tends to the rough and tough woman he rescued from drowning in the nearby tide, Tracy (Anne Korajczyk). The first act dives right in without exposition as the two play a game if wits, trying to impress one another while refusing to like each other. We probably know where this is going, right? They fall in love, problems ensue. The play itself – the writing – is a little odd in that it tries so hard to be clever. Playwright Don Nigro’s language feels contrived and awkward. But this could be the fault of weak acting. The performers, although qualified, seem uninspired. They run around in the simple living room set trying to be unique and quirky and don’t often succeed.
It seems that the piece the play is lacking is comedy. The production is not without its redeemable material. Conversations are aggressive and interesting and hold attention through the 90 minutes. But there’s a void. In brief moments we see Korajczyk smile at her own puns, which she deserves. In a play that’s so, let’s just say it, tepid, why not buff up the comedy side? Rarely does any frequent theatergoer say no way to laughter. Too many productions take a dark, harsh tone with their story in order to appear distinguished or intelligent, and those productions miss out on the point of performance: entertainment. Not to say those dramatic works aren’t, well, distinguished, intelligent or entertaining (e.g. most anything Sondheim), but more often than not they’re missing the mark.
Stepping off the soapbox, it still should be clear that this production of Seascape is still quite good. While it is enjoyable, it unintentionally hit a nerve – for me, anyway. Broadening our minds in a somewhat flat play could reveal a comedic tone that not only deepens the dramatic moments, but better entertains the audiences.
SEASCAPE WITH SHARKS AND DANCER
Promethean Theatre Ensemble
Through December 10, 2011
Tickets $20, available at prometheantheatre.org
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