It begins with a storm, a shipwreck, the rag tag crew find refuge on the shores of a strange island…sound familiar? Don’t be fooled, The Sea Voyage is far from an echo of Shakespeare’s Tempest. John Fletcher crafts a witty comedy that rivals the better remembered bards of his time. His female characters are strong willed, humorous and well, horny. The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory did an excellent job unearthing this comedic gem.
Director Ann Turiano’s blocking creates wonderful stage pictures throughout the production showing off each character’s personality and playing to the strengths of her actors. She and the actors lace modern physical humor seamlessly into Fletcher’s broken verse making it approachable and funny for the audience without stepping into over the top or cheesy territory. This production would have even an Elizabethan weary audience laughing.
As with Fletcher’s script it is the women who lead the pack, including the women who play men. Allison Bloechl’s animated humor and facial expressions as Aminta (the Captain’s mistress) keeps the audience rooting for her even when the rest of the crew is pondering the best way to eat her. Her physical humor subtly highlights the bawdy sex jokes sprinkled throughout the script without trying too hard to get the laugh. With effortless verse and a natural swagger that made no mustache necessary, Sian Edwards had the audience laughing as Tibalt the sailor. Kerry Brady and Kathryn Falcone were standouts with polished verse and the natural ease of character that only comes with experience, my mind was racing with all of the roles I would love to see them play. There was no lack of talent on the men’s parts either, Dean Carlson made for an excellent Albert and a charming emcee for the evening.
The only shortcomings of the evening were found in the opening scene. After the cast beautifully transitioned from the opening entertainment to the start of the play (great use of music and character reactions), the storm begins to blow. Turiano’s choreography is on point with the cast’s synchronized movements perfectly emulating a wind tossed vessel, but the actors’ lines cannot be heard over the homemade thunder sheet and back stage drumming. The actors do the best they can to compensate but the characters and relationships do not become clear until the noise of the storm subsides. Despite the storm, Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s production of The Sea Voyage is a hilarious, well-acted adventure even classical newbies will enjoy.
Tip: Arrive early and enjoy the pre-show entertainment! The casts’ renditions of drinking songs, sea shanties, and modern chart toppers will have you singing along and feeling like one of the crew. Special shout-out to the 2 and 3 part harmonies and of course the Hamilton tribute during intermission.
Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission. Pre-show festivities begin one half hour prior to curtain
The Sea Voyage plays through November 19, 2017 at The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory at the St. Mary’s Community Center— 3900 Roland Avenue in Hampden borough of Baltimore, MD. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance online.