Much of what draws Colm and Timothea together quickly begins to pull them apart, the play shows us. His skill with the written word at first intrigues her, then it convinces her he has a gift, and finally it tears at their relationship as it becomes clear it’s a gift that may be wholly dependent on his eventual return to the place that first inspired him.
So Sea Marks is about the landscape that has made us, the sea that echoes our own depths and the difficulty of bridging one from the other. It’s an Irish play insofar as its comfortable exploring this very Celtic dual awareness and it has found the ideal actors and director at the Irish Rep.
Fitzgerald’s Beckettian coif is matched by his unassailable physical presence as an island man as comfortable piloting a currach as knitting a hat. He makes you believe he’s a man of the sea in the play’s first moments, and he delivers a startlingly accomplished performance, adding layer and layer to his portrait until he’s magically inhabited his character.
Elbrick is equally impressive, being a flinty and mercurial stage presence that alternates between passion and philosophy with ease. As the play progresses we begin to understand how much Colm owes to her, as she becomes his only conduit to the outside world, a world that has somehow passed him by for so long.
There’s also a lovely battle between first love and rueful middle-aged heartache animating Sea Marks, which makes it a surprisingly engrossing experience, but it’s the work of the director and these two supremely talented actors that make the show absolutely unmissable.
The Irish Rep has already achieved an enviable reputation as one of the most accomplished theaters in the nation, but with Sea Marks they remind us that reputation was often built on taking the kind of creative risks that every now and again pay off as handsomely as this show does.
For tickets and showtimes go here.