Sunday 10th April 2022 at The Gate House Theatre, London.
Reviewer: Jonathan Walfisz
Is it easier to perform for a small or large crowd? Every actor will have their own answer, but I’m sure few would be as comfortable giving such intimate and visceral performances as Louise Catherwood and Lewis Williams gave in “The Seabreeze Calls Me” last night.
Performed to a handful of faces in the Bridge House Theatre in Penge, Catherwood is a force to be reckoned with. She glides effortlessly through her roles as storyteller, comedian, arcane poet and a guttural physical actor. At her side, underneath her, and from above, Williams’ malevolent contortions complement what could have been devised as a straightforward monologue and transform the play into something more memorable.
The Seabreeze Calls Me is a spoken-word production that chronicles the thoughts and feelings of Catherwood’s Violet the night before her wedding. Reflecting back on a less than perfect relationship/job/life, Violet is beleaguered by how society’s pressures and mores have led her down this particular aisle.
The play opens with Adams Family-esque hands scrambling out from under the centre-stage bed and transforms into the two actors clawing at each other’s bodies. From then on, the carnal is always round the corner as Violet considers the way she has been overlooked by others and herself in her quiet and humdrum town.
Each line is filled with either lyrical potency or witty realism, and Catherwood’s use of language is stunning throughout. Directed by Rachael Gavin Stott, the play’s physical presence is an excellent addition to the mostly monologue production. Williams’ alternately plays Adam, Violet’s betrothed but is at any point liable to shift from a competent stage-hand to a shrieking werewolf. It’s through the intense physical direction and choreography that Catherwood’s words of the stark rift between what we say and how we feel is visibly displayed.
The entirety of ‘Seabreeze’ to me though was hemmed in by the interiority of the story. At one point, Violet tells Adam he isn’t marrying her, not really. He’s marrying an idea of her. Yet despite this keen observation, I felt that the same could be said the other way around. Throughout the play, we hear and feel a lot of Violet’s dissatisfaction, but I rarely felt myself gaining an understanding of what that dissatisfaction looked like beyond her. The character of Adam often feels more of a projection from Violet than a character outright.
Despite this, ‘Seabreeze’ is a strongly written and impressively performed piece that will stick in my mind for how it presents the violent underbelly of animal emotion that belies human sensuality. It deserves to be seen by bigger audiences.
The Seabreeze Calls Me plays The Bridge House Theatre, London until April 11th 2022 – you can find more information here