A fascinating blend of realism and mythology, Cordelia Lynn’s single-setting play, Sea Creatures, weaves a perhaps slightly over-ambitious web of symbolism and philosophy.
Set inside a cottage by the sea, Zoë Hurwitz's set design, complimented excellently by Jack Knowles's lighting, produces a visually striking and incredibly satisfying set. There are small dining and terrace sections but for the most part, the action is centred around the kitchen island, heart of the home, perfect for the Thrust auditorium.
That being said, the sea is never far away and using the sound of crashing waves as the indicator for scene changes is inspiring. A more literal reminder of the ever-present underlying theme that’s referenced in the use of food, folk tales and, in dialogue concerning paintings and other works not present on stage. The full meaning behind the references to the sea is perhaps a little unclear but Lynn’s way of interweaving sea-lore of loss and heartbreak into the characters' own similar tales is certainly interesting.
Exploring the themes of absence and loss, the cast of five main characters are all relatable but afflicted in some way with emotional pain giving a slightly ominous feel to many of their interactions. There’s an underlying tension but it never fully builds or resolves and while the interactions are enjoyable, there are surrealist and postmodernist elements to the production that arguably detract from the overall emotion.
The plot is reminiscent of Beat Generation work in that it feels as though it begins in the middle of a series of events and ends somewhat ambiguously rather than in any firm conclusion. The key event is the arrival of Mark (Tom Mothersdale) at the house following the disappearance of his partner, Robin. The remainder of the play is focused on the interactions between the characters and is very much open to interpretation.
The performances are high quality across the board with Geraldine Alexander (Shirley) and Thusitha Jayasundera (Sarah) feeling particularly relatable and capturing their characters well.
The sterling performances and set design alone make this an entertaining evening and, intriguing and thought-provoking as it is, Sea Creatures is a cerebral work that dives a little too deep, perhaps saved only by its more light-hearted moments.
It runs until the 29th of April.
Review: Damien Russell Photo: Marc Brenner