Now through Oct. 6, the Santa Paula Theater Center offers a new production of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize winning comedy Seascape (1975), directed by SPTC artistic director David Ralphe, with sets by Mike Carnahan, lighting by Gary Richardson, costumes by Barbara Pedziwiatr, and sound by David Ralphe and Allan Noel.
The four-actor cast includes Allan Noel (Charlie), Francine Markow (Nancy), Brian Harris (Leslie), and Jessi May Stevenson (Sarah).
Seascape takes place on a deserted stretch of beach, where a retirement-aged couple, after a picnic lunch, relaxes and talks idly about home, family and their life together. She stretches; he naps.
Then suddenly, they are joined by two human-sized sea creatures, a pair of reptiles from the depths of the ocean, with whom they engage in a wide-ranging and profound conversation. Edward Albee said: “Seascape wonders whether we are an evolving species or perhaps a devolving one. Two lizards; two humans.”
“Art is how we turn the facts into the truth,” Edward Albee once said to me.
Albee’s art works in mysterious ways, but there is no doubt that it works marvelously well.
You could describe the action of Seascape in pretty much the same terms as you would Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or A Delicate Balance — a handful of people talking.
To be sure, the characters in the two latter plays are all well-educated and in the upper-middle class, while that describes only two of the four in Seascape: the other two being non-human, non-mammal, sea creatures.
Yet the dynamic is roughly the same: In Albee’s plays, the characters learn about themselves by talking to others, as we learn about ourselves from watching them. Other people function as mirrors.
Seascape baffled the critics in its premier production, but it earned Albee the second of his three Pulitzer Prizes, and many other awards as well. What was problematic for the critics doesn’t seem to have bothered audiences, then or since. It is one of Albee’s most frequently performed plays.
Seascape plays at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, in the Santa Paula Theater Center, 125 S. 7th St., Santa Paula. Tickets are $24 adults, $22 seniors and students, and are available at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.santapaulatheatercenter.org.