MOM THEATRE BLOGGER: IN THE SECRET SEA: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

In The Secret Sea, a new American play by Cate Ryan (The Picture Box) and directed by Tony Award© winner Martin Charnin (Annie), features Shelly Burch (Audrey), Paul Carlin (Gil), Malachy Cleary (Jack), Glynnis O’Connor (Joyce), and Adam Petherbridge (Da at Irish Repertory Theatre).Paul Carlin (Gil) and Glynnis O'Connor (Joyce). Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Kenny and Gail (who we never meet) are newly married, and she is happily expecting (or so we initially think) their first child.  His and her parents are set to get together on Easter Sunday, and a wrench is thrown in when Kenny confesses that something is very wrong but he can’t readily reveal it.

The play is set in the Connecticut home (a striking set) of Kenny’s parents, who until now have led secure, privileged, predictable lives. When Kenny ultimately bares his anguished soul, his parents learn that Gail’s parents are already privvy to the sad scenario, and they all struggle to make sense of it and their hopes as future grandparents.

So, too, does the audience struggle, but in the sense that there is little to be felt here, despite the tragic circumstances. Though a heart-wrenching story, particularly for anyone who is a parent or contemplating it, we are led to experience little depth of emotion, largely because the characters themselves feel flat, and the play is one dimensional and talk, detail-heavy.

Petherbridge turns in the most compassionate performance, particularly at the unexpected end, which tugs a bit on the heartstrings.  Until then, for 80 minutes (no intermission), we are largely watching two older couples go on about marriage, intimacy, etc., leading to hurt and anger, but no great revelations overall.  The actors do their best with the material they are given.

The creative team includes Beowulf Boritt and Alexis Distler (scenic design), Ken Billington (lighting design), and Suzy Benzinger (costume design). In The Secret Sea is produced by Wellington Road, LLC.Shenandoah, W.V. Public; Hamlet, N.J. Shakespeare; Three Musketeers, Goodman. TV: “30 Rock,” “Law & Order,” “Ryan’s Hope” (1980-81), “One Life to Live,” “All My Children.”

In The Secret Sea is playing a limited engagement of five weeks at The Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues) through Saturday, May 21.



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