The Sea by Edward Bond
Performed during 1974
Cast & Crew
Technical Crew Details:
Reviewed by J.M.A. for The Croydon Advertiser
Life Goes On
If a playwright has to devote his last scene to a lengthy explanation of his philosophy, there is something wrong somewhere.
And if that philosophy could be expressed in the three words "Life Goes On" and moreover does not bear too much relation to the preceding action, you might go so far as to decide it was a bad play.
On the contrary, "The Sea" by Edward Bond last week proved an excellent vehicle for Theatre Workshop Coulsdon to express their varied talents and to entertain a disappointingly small audience.
As a mad draper convinced (in 1907) that the world was being taken over by beings from other planets, Stephen Swinscoe gave a fine baroque display of neurosis, delusions of grandeur competing with the ingrained subservience of the Edwardian shopkeeper.
Standing for conservatism, the upper classes and the old order, Lesley Argles could have put a little more commanding self-assurance into her voice. Her paid companion was played by Rosemary Quin with the nuances of insufferable decayed gentility very well gauged. Their bevy of hangers-on produced good vignettes from Diana Hewett, Sue Guiver and Liz Sutton. Sarah Berwick was an appealing bereaved young fiancee.
Christopher Argles had a certain insight into the part of the eccentric outcast, which character was all too evidently Bond's mouthpiece. he delivers himself of a pretentious longwinded bit of simple philosophy to the boy saved when his companion was drowned. He is so cheered up that he goes off with the bereaved fiancee, and they all live happily ever after, only it seemed a bit contrived.
The draper's adherents, manifestly of the Lower Classes, were standard shambling yokels (Keith Walton, Tim Young, Cliff Palmer) who return to the ways of righteousness and their destined places after the brief revolt.
The revolt and the tragedy are portrayed in a kind of alternating counterpoint. The ladies rehearse a shatteringly awful play, while the two young people are completely absorbed in their own sorrow. The draper furiously chops up lengths of beautiful blue cloth in a defiant gesture supposed to force Madam into buying it.
The most farcical scene is the clifftop funeral where Tim Andrew resurrected every comic Vicar there ever was. In the ensuing free-for-all the ashes of the deceased are flung over everybody in macabre slapstick.
These differing paces and moods were extremely well conveyed in Roger Keightley's planned, cohesive production. Sound effects and lighting were so realistic, one longed for oil-cloths and a lightning conductor.
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