Sea Marks | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Sea Marks, Pyewacket, at the Athenaeum Theatre. A chenille-covered double bed center stage might only represent the period: circa 1962, postwar but pre-Beatles. But other clues also indicate a romantic subtext. True, the Englishwoman to whom an Irish fisherman addresses his lyrical correspondence works for a book publisher, and she's shown his letters to her boss. It's no surprise when the two correspondents eventually come together and a volume of mariner poems is born. But will love conquer all when the book's commercial promotion proves a sticking point with the author?

Former actor Gardner McKay has written an actors' play driven more by character than plot--and he's to be commended for avoiding the sentimental route in deciding the fate of his middle-aged lovers. But what sells the potentially quaint, cute Sea Marks is the copious charm Dan Cooney and Kate Harris give their prim characters' progress ("I'm a 44-year-old spinster-man!" fisherman Colm protests to the only slightly more sophisticated Timothea at the prospect of their sharing quarters). And Cooney bestows a remarkable eloquence on McKay's sweeping psalms in praise of the sea. Harris and director Linda LeVeque may be Pyewacket's anchors, but Cooney's performance fills this production's sails.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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