The Sea

Play by Edward Bond. 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 1973 The Sea is a fascinating blend of wild farce, high comedy, biting social satire and bleak poetic tragedy.

1973 Original London Production with Carol Browne

1991 London Revival with Judi Dench

2008 Original West End London Production with Eileen Atkins

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.


1973 Original London Production with Carol Browne

Previewed 17 May 1973, Opened 22 May 1973, Closed 23 June 1973 at the Royal Court Theatre

The cast featured Coral Browne as 'Louise Rafi', Ian Holm as 'Hatch', Alan Webb as 'Evens', and Gillian Martell as 'Jessica Tilehouse', with Adrienne Byrne as 'Jilly', Simon Cord as 'Thompson', Anthony Langdon as 'Carter', Margaret Lawley as 'Davis', Mark McManus as 'Hollarcut', Barbara Ogilvie as 'Rachel', Diana Quick as 'Rose Jones', Simon Rouse as 'Willy Carson', Jeremy Wilkin as 'Vicar', and Susan Williamson as 'Mafanwy Price'.

Directed by William Gaskill, with designs by Deirdre Clancy, and lighting by Andy Phillips.


1991 London Revival with Judi Dench

Previewed 6 December 1991, Opened 12 December 1991, Closed 8 April 1992 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre

The cast featured Judi Dench as 'Louise Rafi', Ken Stott as 'Hatch', Alan MacNaughtan as 'Evens', and Celia Imrie as 'Jessica Tilehouse', with Imogen Bain as 'Rachel', Christabelle Dilks as 'Jilly', David Foxxe as 'Carter', Ellie Haddington as 'Mafanwy Price', Karl Johnson as 'Vicar', Sonya Lette as 'Davis', Tim Potter as 'Thompson', David Thewlis as 'Hollarcut', Samuel West as 'Willy Carson', Sarah Wooward as 'Rose Jones', Paul McGrane, and Barry Stearn.

Directed by Sam Mendes, with designs by Bob Crowley, lighting by Paul Pyant, music by Paddy Cunneen, and sound by David E Smith.


2008 Original West End London Production with Eileen Atkins

Previewed 17 January 2008, Opened 23 January 2008, Closed 19 April 2008 at the Haymarket Theatre

A major revival of Edward Bond's play The Sea starring Eileen Atkins, David Haig and Marcia Warren

The cast featured Eileen Atkins as 'Louise Rafi', David Haig as 'Hatch', David Burke as 'Evens', and Marcia Warren as 'Jessica Tilehouse', with Sarah Annis as 'Rachel', John Branwell as 'Carter', 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'.

Directed by Jonathan Kent with designs by Paul Brown, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Paul Groothuis.

Eileen Atkins' London theatre credits include Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party (Duchess Theatre 2005); Joanna Murray-Smith's play Honour (National Theatre 2003); Yasmina Reza's The Unexpected Man (Duchess Theatre 1998); Eileen Atkins' Vita and Virginia (Ambassadors Theatre 1993); Tennessee Williams' The Night Of The Iguana (National Theatre 1992); Harold Pinter's Mountain Language (National Theatre 1988); Euripides' Medea (Young Vic Theatre 1986); Peter Nichols' Passion Play (Aldwych Theatre 1981); George Bernard Shaw's play Saint Joan (Old Vic Theatre 1977); and Noel Coward's Fallen Angels (Greenwich Theatre 1975).

David Haig's London theatre credits include William Wycherley's The Country Wife (Haymarket Theatre 2007); Michael Frayn's Donkeys' Years (Comedy Theatre 2006); Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman's Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre 2004); and Terry Johnson's Dead Funny (Vaudeville Theatre 1994).

Marcia Warren's London theatre credits include Imogen Stubbs' We Happy Few (Gielgud Theatre 2004); Joseph Kesselring's Arsenic And Old Lace (Novello Theatre 2003); Charlotte Jones' In Flame (Bush Theatre 1999 / Ambassadors Theatre 2000); George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (Albery Theatre 1997); Sam Shepard's True West (Donmar Warehouse 1994); Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit (Vaudeville Theatre 1987); and Richard Harris' Stepping Out (Duke of York's Theatre 1984).

"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.