Theatre Review - Sea Creatures

In a cottage by the sea, four women spend time together. The matriarch, Shirley (Geraldine Alexander) is an academic, whose mind appears to be drifting. She has nightmares and yearns for uninterrupted sleep.

Her partner Sarah (Thusitha Jayasundera) is an artist. Two of Sheila’s daughters are present – the eldest George (Pearl Chanda) is dealing with an unwanted pregnancy while 22-year-old Toni (Grace Saif) appears trapped in perpetual adolescence, lacking in agency, and always dressed in pyjamas.

Shirley’s third daughter Robin is missing. When her boyfriend Mark (Tom Mothersdale) turns up to wait for her, there are hints of depression, a spell in hospital. He decides to remain with the women for their summer break and aggressively cooks for them, imposing his will on their mealtimes and disturbing their routines.

Cordelia Lynn’s scenes are fragmented or elliptical. The characters swim, walk, prepare meals, share stories, play charades. We join a conversation midway through, a sentence is left unfinished or a thread of conversation dissolves into silence.

All the while (thanks to Max Pappenheim’s evocative sound) we are aware of the sea’s presence outside.

A fisherman (Tony Tuner) brings lobsters and entertains the family with his tales. Storytelling is seen as restorative. An old woman, a selkie (June Watson), arrives in the kitchen and laments the absence of her skin. Her appearance accentuates the sense of loss that pervades the play.

Director James MacDonald slows the pace right down. There are scenes where nothing much happens – characters pass through the kitchen headed for somewhere else. The play is big on atmosphere and there is a palpable sense of bereavement – for people, childhood, love, and memories.

Lynn is clearly interested in exploring her characters’ interior lives and what lies just beneath the surface, but the meaning of Sea Creatures feels as opaque as the sea after a storm.

Until April 29

Originally published by Camden New Journal