On The Shore of the Wide World: Coping & Watching but Not Diving In.
By Ross for frontmezzjunkies.com
They all seem fairly normal and solid at the beginning. Well, maybe not normal but average, in that emotionally suppressed kind of way that feels normal to most of us. Or at least that’s how director Neil Pepe (The Penitent) initially allows them to come across. Epitomized by Peter, the father of the household, and the way he addresses the disturbances that rock the foundation of his home, he copes much like the houses that he meticulously revitalizes. Played with a quiet pain and slight confusion of the world around him, C.J. Wilson (Atlantic’s Hold on to Me Darling) as the father/restoration expert sums up his outlook on life in essence, when he explains to a new customer, the pregnant book editor played with warmth and compassion by the wonderful Amelia Workman (Second Stage’s The Layover), that his process of restoration is slow and methodical in order to take care of the old wood underneath before painting a new color on top. It feels like a quiet and soulful idea that he himself is trying to embrace. And we soon will discover why.
Simon Stephens, the playwright, best known here for his Tony-winning adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and Heisenberg, both seen on Broadway over the last few years has written something both beautiful, poetic, and devastating with his 2006 Olivier Award winning play, On the Shore of the Wide World at the Atlantic Theatre Company. The family he has created is steadfastly trying to deal with all of its inner demons and domestic trauma that slowly seeps into our collective surface over the course of this tad too long play. Stephens, who in my eyes is at his best when delivering short diads of conversation as he expertly showcased with his play, Wastwater, structures this introspective family drama in a series of two or three character scenes. The set, by designer Scott Pask (The Band’s Visit) with lighting by Christopher Akerlind (Broadway’s Indecent) and costumes by Sarah Laux (Second Stage’s Man from Nebraska), is a solid familial house made of the old wood that Peter refers to earlier. Although not set entirely in this house, the play takes us to numerous locations in this small town of Stockport, a suburb of Manchester, where most dream of what is beyond the shores in this wide world but few leave to discover it. The house is a reminder of the solid structure of home, and all the weight that it implies, but does not exude warmth either. Most of the characters speak of leaving at one point or another, running away and escaping this house and this town, all the while pleading with others not to go. (for the full review, click here)
Posted on September 18, 2017