While walking on a Cape Cod beach, writer Ben (Matthew Hannon) spots a naked young woman, Tracy (Christine Weatherup), floundering in the sea. He pulls her ashore, and takes her back to his rundown beach house to recuperate — but she’s far from grateful. She wasn’t drowning, she claims, but dancing. Despite the fact that she’s rude, arrogant, selfish and demanding, he’s enchanted, and after some hot chocolate and sparring, they tumble into bed. Dan Nigro’s play starts out as a kooky “meet cute” comedy, then segues into a quietly harrowing portrait of a certain kind of destructive relationship. She’s convinced that no one can love her, and therefore he’ll inevitably leave her. So she constantly threatens to leave him, but never does, and he cares for her enough to endure the pain and uncertainty she inflicts on him. Weatherup’s Tracy is an emotionally volatile woman riddled with conflicts, manipulative, and pathologically self-destructive, while Hannon’s Ben is reduced to pure victim and enabler because of his refusal to fight back. Director Benjamin Haber Kamine elicits persuasive performances from his actors, and keeps the proceedings interesting, though a sharper focus on Ben’s character might have made for a better balance. Studio/Stage, 520 North Western Avenue, Los Angeles; Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m., Sun. Feb. 21 & 28, 8 p.m.; thru March 5 http://www.sharksanddancer.com/tickets (Neal Weaver)
“…a fresh directorial take on this regional theater favorite…a quirky, fast-paced ninety minutes of romance, comedy, and a dollop of drama…” -Steven Stanley, StageSceneLA
“Weatherup and Hannon exhibit strong chemistry with each other…” -Mary Mallory, Tolucan Times
Come check it out for yourself with 2-for-1 tickets at the door. This Wednesday, February 10th!
SEASCAPE WITH SHARKS AND DANCER
by Steven Stanley, StageScene LA, January 28th, 2010
A young man pulls a young woman out of the ocean and brings her back to his rundown Provincetown beach house. He says she was drowning; she says she was dancing. From the get-go, romantic sparks seem to be flying between them. Their repartee recalls those screwball comedies of the 1930s, but the year is 1975 and there are hints that the young woman’s playfully argumentative nature hides a darker side. There’s also the engagement ring she finds hidden in a desk drawer that suggests that the young man too may carry emotional baggage.
Meet Ben and Tracy, the hero and heroine of Seascape With Shark And Dancer, Don Nigro’s unconventional romance, now playing at Studio/Stage. First-rate performances by Matthew Hannon and Christine Weatherup and a fresh directorial take on this regional theater favorite make for an entertaining and touching production.
Director Benjamin Haber Kamine has wisely opted to keep the mood light and flirtatious from the start, the better to help us see and feel the instant attraction between rescuer and rescuee. On paper, Tracy may come across as merely irritating in her refusal to tell Ben her name, her misuse of the English language (she calls marshmallows “mushrunes”), and her general cantankerousness. On stage, Weatherup and Hannon have such natural chemistry that we immediately buy their attraction. The actress is simply too darn cute and the actor too darn sincere for the audience to find themselves anywhere other than on both their sides, even when things get serious in the second act with Tracy doing everything in her power to push Ben away.
The Bianca Chen/Hannon-produced production is a prime example of just how much fine work is being done “under the radar” in 99-seat Los Angeles theater. Running mostly on off-nights and put together by two trained, experienced young actors looking to move beyond acting class scene study, this midweek production can stand up very nicely indeed against higher budget, bigger name weekend shows.
“Seascape…” Examines Stormy Relationship
By Mary Mallory on January 27th, 2010 in the Tolucan Times
Containing outstanding acting and fine directing, “Seascape with Sharks and Dancer” depicts the comedic yet turbulent relationship of a young couple in 1970’s Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Ben (Matthew Hannon) rescues a naked Tracy (Christine Weatherup) from the stormy seas and, almost immediately, they fall in love. The couple lusts for each other even though they share nothing in common except emotionally distancing themselves from each other. With so little to bond them except the hots for each other, will they stay together?