Pictured: Cinnamon Schultz and Darren Kennedy. Photo by Brian Paulette.
By Abigail Trabue
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)
I do not consider myself a deeply religious person, so to find myself drawn to a Bible verse is something of a new one for me, but there it is. Regardless of the origin, those well-known words are the heart and soul of the relationship Gardner McKay creates for two people living two very different lives in SEA MARKS, now playing at Kansas City Actors Theatre.
A beautiful snap-shot in time, SEA MARKS tells the story of an Irish fisherman who strikes up a correspondence with a woman he’d met only once. Navigating the very foreign world of letter writing, he attempts to court her by mail and after a year and a half succeeds in arranging a meeting at which, to his surprise, but not to ours, she persuades him to live with her in Liverpool.
KCAT has placed this delicate piece in the capable hands of Jan Rogge who clearly understands that at the heart of SEA MARKS is belonging. Rogge smartly moves through the world with two actors who recognize the shifts and flow of McKay’s language, and how to anchor that language inside the real and honest situation they find themselves in.
Cinnamon Schultz (Timothea) and Darren Kennedy (Colm) are perfectly matched. Schultz brings a depth and charm to Timothea that radiates, and Kennedy masters the imagery of the language, delivering a stunning monologue that transports you beyond the dark theater to the salty air of Cliffhorn Heads. Schultz and Kennedy actively listen to each other, they breath in the space around them, and have already achieved an ease of character that is rarely seen on opening night.
This level of achievement is evident in the design team, too. Gary Mosby’s set is straightforward but surprising in its fine detail. Costume Designer Sarah M. Oliver has designed a look for Colm that feels like an extension of who he is. Lighting Designer Shane Rouse expertly transports us to locations outside of Timothea’s apartment, while Sound Designer Jonathan Robertson once again, creates an entire experience built around sound.
Driving home Saturday night I asked my friend what she thought of the production. She proceeded to tell me how much she appreciated the simplicity of the story, how refreshing it was to see two people engage in a real relationship and not one that we see play out on reality TV or in the movies. Conflict is acknowledged, heard and resolved through mutual respect, and in the end, when faced with a difficult decision, the respect you have for yourself and your partner is what guides you, even if the result is painful. I couldn’t agree with her more.
SEA MARKS runs through January 28th. For more information visit kcactors.org.