Sea Marks OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

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  • TIME OUT

  • TM

  • SBW

  • NEW YORKER

Opening Night:
May 5, 2014
Closing:
July 13, 2014

Theater: Irish Repertory Theatre / 132 West 22nd Street, New York, NY, 10011

Synopsis: 

Sea Marks is the story of two people falling in love. He is a rough-hewn fisherman, living by the sea, on a remote island off the West of Ireland. She lives in Liverpool where she works in a book publishing house. They meet. Letters follow–letters full of powerful alluring words like she’s never heard before… Gardner McKay’s play beautifully captures the heartache of long-distance love and when the call of the heart challenges the call of the wild.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Sea Marks

    Fisherman Likes Sex but Hates the City Gardner McKay’s ‘Sea Marks’ Is Revived at Irish Rep

    Alexis Soloski

    May 13, 2014: Sea Marks takes place in that distant, storied past before the invention of email. Still, it’s amusing to think of the online personals ad its hero, Colm (Patrick Fitzgerald), might have written: “Single, virginal fisherman on remote Irish island seeks woman for conversation, companionship and whiskey tippling. Likes: Mackerel, the sea, ale. Dislikes: Organized religion, incense, small presses. Fondness for lyrical twaddle and small craft a plus.” (Surely, Colm would have favored the Plenty of Fish site.) Though Colm may not be much of a catch, he somehow hooks Timothea (Xanthe Elbrick), a publishing house underling, on the island for a cousin’s wedding. He begins to send her letters — heavy on water and sky, life and fate. This fails to dissuade her. In fact, she entices him to Liverpool and then to bed. She also persuades her firm to publish his letters as a book of poems, “Sea Sonnets,” which seems destined to float comfortably far from the best-seller lists. But Colm doesn’t share her literary ambitions or her interest in city life. Gardner McKay’s script, directed by Ciaran O’Reilly at the Irish Repertory Theater, manages the nifty trick of being both utterly formulaic and highly implausible. You can see the plot twists from miles away, though you don’t believe them when they arrive. That said, the play has its charms, which derive mostly from the obvious enjoyment of the actors. (McKay was an actor turned playwright himself; Sea Marks was produced in New York in 1981.)

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Sea Marks

    Sea Marks: Theater review by Diane Snyder

    Diane Snyder

    May 13, 2014: A great production could banish the contrivances of Sea Marks. Ciarán O’Reilly’s is halfway there, beginning with promising low-key tenderness, but never recovering from a frantically paced second act. A regional theater mainstay, Gardner McKay’s 1971 duet between an Irish fisherman and a Liverpool publishing-house employee is part soulful love story, part dialogue about the power and limitations of language—and entirely old-fashioned.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Sea Marks

    Sea Marks

    Pete Hempstead

    May 5, 2014: New York stages have seen several Irish love stories in the past months, all filled with the peculiar Celtic humor, melancholy, and awkwardness that come from being alone too long. But Gardner McKay's Sea Marks, now playing at Irish Repertory Theatre, stands apart not just for its two strong performances but for the sheer beauty of its language. Ciarán O'Reilly directs this endearing and haunting play, which will speak to anyone who has been torn between love for another and fear of leaving behind the life one knows. Colm Primrose (Patrick Fitzgerald) fishes the waters off the Irish island of Cliffhorn Heads, where he's lived all his life. He starts a long-distance romance with Timothea Stiles (Xanthe Elbrick), an ambitious woman who has moved from the sticks to the big city of Liverpool to build a career in book publishing. For over a year, they correspond through letters, and Timothea finds in his prose a raw, urgent beauty. "I think you might have a touch of the poet in you, the way Irishmen do," she writes. When they meet, Timothea brings Colm's primitively lyrical words to the public eye, but Colm finds no pleasure in celebrity, and his longing for the quiet isolation of his seaside home threatens to pull him away from the city and from the woman he has come desperately to love.

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  • SHOW BUSINESS WEEKLY REVIEW OF Sea Marks

    “Sea Marks” by Gardner McKay at The Irish Repertory Theatre

    Iris Greenberger

    May 11, 2014: Playwright and actor Gardner McKay wrote so lovingly about the sea in Sea Marks that I felt sure that it somehow must have been in his blood. My suspicions were confirmed: not only was McKay the great-grandson of shipbuilder Donald McKay, he was also an experienced sailor by the time he starred as Adam Troy in the television series Adventures in Paradise, playing a captain who sailed the South Pacific in a schooner. Written in 1971, Sea Marks is set in Cliffhorn Heads, a western island in Ireland, and Liverpool. Colm Primrose (Patrick Fitzgerald), a middle-aged herring and mackerel fisherman, lives alone in a small stone cottage. Content with his simple life that revolves around the sea, he has never married nor even traveled past Galway. He musters up the courage to write a letter to Timothea Stiles (Xanthe Elbrick), a pretty woman whom he met briefly two winters ago when she came to the island to attend a family wedding. Raised on a farm in Wales, Timothea works in Liverpool for a book publisher.

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  • NEW YORKER REVIEW OF Sea Marks

    GOINGS ON ABOUT TOWN: THE THEATRE SEA MARKS

    May 13, 2014: In the role of Colm in Gardner McKay’s play, Patrick Fitzgerald creates a striking stage figure: with a shock of Beckettian white hair echoing a cable-knit jersey, a thick brogue, and a voice strengthened from a fisherman’s lifetime on and around the Irish island of Cliffhorn Heads. Set in the nineteen-sixties, the piece begins as an epistolary exchange between Colm and Timothea (Xanthe Elbrick), a publishing-house employee from Liverpool who caught the forty-something bachelor’s attention at a wedding on the island. The writing in these early scenes is quite beautiful—plainspoken yet poetic. But the middle section, when the unlikely lovers get together, suffers from a prosaic, jokey kind of rom-com approach, with exaggerated obstacles and reconciliations, and a particularly unfortunate drunk scene. The text seems to call for a gentler, more bittersweet tack than the director, Ciarán O’Reilly, has chosen for his two-person cast.

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Sea Marks Review REVIEWS

Opening Night:
Closing:
Open Ended

Theater:

Synopsis: 

New York stages have seen several Irish love stories in the past months, all filled with the peculiar Celtic humor, melancholy, and awkwardness that come from being alone too long. But Gardner McKay’s Sea Marks, now playing at Irish Repertory Theatre, stands apart not just for its two strong performances but for the sheer beauty of its language. Ciarán O’Reilly directs this endearing and haunting play, which will speak to anyone who has been torn between love for another and fear of leaving behind the life one knows. Colm Primrose (Patrick Fitzgerald) fishes the waters off the Irish island of Cliffhorn Heads, where he’s lived all his life. He starts a long-distance romance with Timothea Stiles (Xanthe Elbrick), an ambitious woman who has moved from the sticks to the big city of Liverpool to build a career in book publishing. For over a year, they correspond through letters, and Timothea finds in his prose a raw, urgent beauty. “I think you might have a touch of the poet in you, the way Irishmen do,” she writes. When they meet, Timothea brings Colm’s primitively lyrical words to the public eye, but Colm finds no pleasure in celebrity, and his longing for the quiet isolation of his seaside home threatens to pull him away from the city and from the woman he has come desperately to love.

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