Language and Lizards

Talking reptiles and bickering spouses -- a perfect Albee mix

Edward Albee's Seascape is all talk and no action, but what talk it is. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play presents themes of evolution both in the literal, Darwinian sense as well as in the notion of the long relationship of married couple Nancy (Joanna Olsen) and Charlie (John Felix). Nancy and Charlie begin the play languidly enjoying a day at the beach, but soon fall into heated patter about where and how -- or even if -- their life together should continue. The couple has grown children, they have grandchildren, and there's no further need to work. Charlie says he's given Nancy a good life and has earned a rest. Nancy vehemently counters that they've earned a little life rather than a one-way ticket to a "retirement farm."

The dialogue is all perfect inflection and pacing, owing to the considerable talent of the actors and the skill of the playwright. Only Albee, master of absurd theater, could manage to make bickering so compelling. During a lull, Leslie (Michael McKeever) and Sarah (Margery Lowe), two talking lizards, amble into the fray. They have left the sea for land because they felt they no longer belonged. After some fearful hesitation, the lizards pepper the couple with questions about human life on land, though they're not even sure what "human" or "land" is. The questions are answered in a brilliant mix of frustration, compassion, and lyricism, as the previously bickering couple tries to explain emotion and intellect.

Seascape is a large, complicated play with power in the hands of this company. The tight Dramaworks space puts the audience almost onstage -- all the better for allowing this rich production to implant itself in the mind and stay there for days.

Reptiles can ask some very tough questions
Reptiles can ask some very tough questions

Details

Written by Edward Albee. Directed by William Hayes. With Joanna Olsen, John Felix, Michael McKeever, and Margery Lowe. Through April 3. 561-514 4042.
Palm Beach Dramaworks, 322 Banyan Blvd, West Palm Beach

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