A Welsh-Irish love story-and some visits by 'Chekhov'; Sea Marks Play by Gardner McKay. Directed by John Stix.
New York — "Sea Marks" is a bittersweet love story about an Irish fisherman and a citified young countrywoman from Wales, a divorcee who works for a liverpool publishing firm.
Gardner McKay's prizewinning comedy at the Players Theater opens on a note of correspondence. Having met Timothea Stiles (Leslie Lyles) at a wedding in his remote fishing village, Colm Primrose (John Getz) seeks to renew their casual acquiantance by writing a letter. She replies, and the letters begin going back and forth. A year and a half later, when Timothea returns for another village wedding, she invites Colm to visit her in Liverpool.
Mr. McKay has written a tenderly touching and often amusing romantic comedy about an unlikely duo. Since its outcome is predictable, the play's appeal springs from the author's perceptive observation and a genuine affection for Timothea and her unworldy lover. A blunt and awkward man in such unfamiliar relationships, Colm has won Timothea's heart with the natural poetry of his letters. Sometime after his arrival in Liverpool and unbeknownst to him, she arranges for their publication.
Colm finds himself on the verge of becoming an overnight local celebrity, a new "primitive" with the prospect of appearances at literary teas and even a guest shot on a London TV talk show. While he responds with some enthusiasm to being a published writer, the transplanted fisherman is dismayed by the trappings of instant lionization. "I'm not going to be made a bigger primitive than I already am," he informs Timothea. The turning point arrives when he learns that his longtime elder partner has drowned.
The human and emotional values of "Sea Marks" have been realized with great discernment and respect in John Stix's staging. Stalward Mr. Getz responds both to Colm's innate lyricism and the tough pragmatism of a man who known intimately the dangers as well as the fascination of the world in which he makes his living and sometimes risks his life. Miss Lyles's Timothea, acutely aware of the rural origins she has left behind her, can understand and cherish a man like Colm but cannot coax him from his vocation. Nor can she abandon her place and position and "need to rise."
The mutual respect and responses of the players are among the special pleasures of the production. So are the designs by Leslie Taylor and Dale Jordan (scenery), Richard Hornung (costumes), and lighting (Todd Elmer).