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Previewed 17 January 2008, Opened 23 January 2008, Closed 19 April 2008 at the Haymarket Theatre in London
A major revival of Edward Bond's play The Sea starring Eileen Atkins, David Haig and Marcia Warren and directed by Jonathan Kent.
A wild storm shakes a small East Anglian seaside village and sets off a series of events that changes the lives of all its residents. Set in the high Edwardian world of 1907, Edward Bond's The Sea is a fascinating blend of wild farce, high comedy, biting social satire and bleak poetic tragedy.
The cast for The Sea in London features Eileen Atkins as 'Louise Rafi', David Haig as 'Hatch' and Marcia Warren as 'Jessica Tilehouse' along with Sarah Annis as 'Rachel', John Branwell as 'Carter', David Burke as 'Evens', William Chubb as 'Vicar', Mariah Gale as 'Rose Jones', Selina Griffiths as 'Mafanwy Price', Harry Lloyd as 'Willy Carson', Emma Noakes as 'Jilly', Russell Tovey as 'Hollarcut', Philippa Urquhart as 'Davis' and Jem Wall as 'Thompson'. The production is directed by Jonathan Kent with designs by Paul Brown, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Paul Groothuis. Edward Bond is recognised as one of the major figures of contemporary British theatre. He has written over 40 plays, including Early Morning, Bingo, The Fool, Lear and Saved, which are performed all over Europe. Eileen Atkins' West End credits include The Birthday Party (Duchess Theatre 2005) and Vita and Virginia (Ambassadors Theatre 1993).
"Edward Bond's play, The Sea, is an odd piece, a poetic tragi-comedy with, I suspect, aspirations to metaphorical heights that wash straight over my head. The Sea begins like The Tempest with a wild storm in which a boy drowns because Hatch - the local draper and apart-time coastguard - refuses to rescue him, convinced that he is an alienpreparing to take over the town. Hatch is paranoid, but then all the characters are extreme. Eileen Atkins's Mrs Rafi is a splendid creation, an East Anglian Lady Bracknellwho attempts to handbag the locals into shape; Marcia Warren as her companion Jessica Tilehouse is deliciously stroppy. But these performances are the comic crests in an otherwise wavering drama." The Mail on Sunday
"Edward Bond has been scorned by British theatre - and scorned it right back - but his 1973 comedy The Sea is glinting, daft and brilliantly strange. It is set in a small coastal community in 1907, where progress is mostly a distant rumour and the class system holds together, just - like a window on the point of shivering to pieces... The play's images are ferociously comic... Bond's extraordinary language contains Blake, Lewis Carroll and imagist shafts all his own. His characters picture despair as an owl starving to death in a city, describe hope as a bloated rat transmogrified into a ratcatcher." The Sunday Times
The director of The Sea, Jonathan Kent, says: "Edward Bond is one of our most important living playwrights - and one of our most neglected. It is shameful that, since the early 1990s, his plays have received their first productions in France - and are performed all over Europe. In some cases, they still remain unperformed here in Britain. He is a theatrical visionary - complex but not complicated, direct, compelling and - let us not forget - at times, very funny. And in The Seas, he combines wild, high comedy with a mysterious dark poetry. His is a voice that we can ill-afford to ignore and I am delighted that, with this production, we are able to reintroduce his work to a whole new generation"
The Sea in London at the Haymarket Theatre previewed from 17 January 2008, opened on 23 January 2008 and closed on 19 April 2008.