Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Ocean Room"

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note: entire contents copyright 2005 by Larry Stark

"The Ocean Room"

Written and Directed by Brian Tuttle

Scenic Design by Morgan Sobel
Lighting and Sound Design by Jennifer Collins Hard
Costume Design by Zoe Weingart
"Ocean Room " Song by Phil Nohl
Marketing by J.P.Levene & Joey Pelletier
Assistant Stage Manager Jason Warner
Production Stage Manager Jennifer Collins Hard

Greg Maraio
Eliza Lay
Brian Tutttle
Julie Levene
Alice Curley

Rachel Kelsey

The most fascinating thing about "The Ocean Room" is discovering what's really happening --- and that means it's a little hard to review the show without destroying an audience's naivete and depriving them of the initial ignorance that makes the process so interesting. And that means asking you to trust me, to go see the show this final week-end before you read any further, and then to come back home to read all the rest and agree or disagree with me. I really believe, though, that if you do so, you'll find that it's a fascinating play very well done.

Well, what can I say that will intrigue yet not ruin the experience? First, the room in the small Actors' Workshop stage has walls made of curtains. Second, there are only two characters here --- well, maybe two and a half, actually. Greg Maraio plays a man --- Okay, let's admit the entire play is taking place inside this man's mind, okay? --- and Eliza Lay, Zoe Weingart and Julie Levene all play his wife. Although the man remains the same age, the play skips audaciously through time. In fact, at one point he insists that he loves his wife "...and will love you when I'm sixty!" to which she replies "Roger, you Are sixty!"

And therefore, much of what takes place is remembered, and not always remembered accurately. The first scenes, for instance, are actually played more flat than the lines might have needed, and only later is it obvious that the Remembering this time was flat, not the real experience itself.

The couple stopped short of seeing the sea on their honeymoon, and have vowed ever since to go back and experience Big Sur. That's why they call this their "Ocean Room" and why the sounds of an increasingly excited tide comes relentlessly in as the man's mind slips as relentlessly away.

The half-character?
Oh, that's Brian Tuttle playing a Salesman/Doctor figure selling states of mind. The very last is Hope.

As with any good new play, it's the story itself and not its playing that is most interesting here, but the 11:11 Productions company is settled snugly into every role, and so the play rattles along in its slowly less bewildering way as surprise after surprise evolves.

And, now that you have read Much too far, I hope the show still has punch. The poetic descriptions and sur-real detail that Writer Tuttle is so good at may be enough to repay the visit after my review has deprived you of its real teeth.

But, if you DID take my first-paragraph warning to heart and did see the show before reading down to here --- How'd I do? Was this the show YOU saw?
E-mail me, one way or another!


"The Ocean Room" (29 April - 7 May)
Actors' Workshop, 327 Summer Street, Studio 4, BOSTON MA
1(617)851-8321, 1(866)811-4111

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide