Despite the absurdist elements of Edward Albee’s “Seascape,” the play may be the playwright’s most accessible work. It is being given an effervescent outing by The Theatre Company at Hubbard Hall.
With this play, the company is christening a new site; a small venue behind the cavernous opera house called the “Freight Depot.” And the match is perfect. “Seascape” is a “small” play with enormous ideas. Since Albee ditched the long and talky second act, the 90-minute piece has become an imaginative burst of brilliant thought.
WHERE: The Theatre Company at Hubbard Hall, 25 East Main St., Cambridge
WHEN: Through April 29
HOW MUCH: $24-$15
MORE INFO: 677-2495
The story opens on a beach and centers on the middle-aged marriage of Charlie (Richard Howe) and Nancy (Stephanie Moffett Hynds). They are a literate couple who discuss Proust and Descartes with fine intention.
Charlie’s philosophy is that “what you cannot fathom cannot be.” He opines, “There’s comfort in settling in.” Nancy longs to renew herself and their marriage by exploring the beaches of the world. She urgently desires Pago Pago and the Riviera, among others, and her longing is richly developed in the poetic prose of her dialogue.
In true Albian fashion, the couple exchange ideas, display their affection and snipe.
But it is when a lizard couple, humanly named Leslie (Doug Ryan) and Sarah (Courtney King), slither up from the depths of the sea, that the play comes alive. They have evolved to a point where they feel they don’t belong to the water anymore — and that supplies the meat of the work.
Ryan, one of the best comic actors on the scene, and King make an absolutely adorable lizard couple. And costumer Karen Koziol has done a stupendous job of making them both fearsome and cute.
They come into an alien world with many human attributes — Leslie, for instance, is tremendously proud and defensive of the length and breadth of his impressive tail — but when they learn of human emotion, they learn how difficult it is to be human. That almost sends them scurrying back to the sea.
Their retreat spurs intense reaction, most surprisingly from Charlie, who finally realizes that progress is much to be desired and that “there are more things in heaven and earth . . . than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” It is stirring theater.
There is no movement coach listed in the program, so it is to be assumed that director Laura Heidinger and her assistant, Janet Scurria, have done a fine job of turning her human actors into lizard-like creatures with postures and positions of head and hands that are bestial and believable.
The set, by Benjie White, is an expanse — made more impressive in this small space — of sand dunes, sea grass and rocks.
Alley Morse, scenic painter and set decorator, and Peter J. Carollan, lighting and sound designer, have created just the right colors and sounds to remind one of glorious days spent at the beach.