The Sea Voyage by Phoenixville High School in Phoenixville, PA
November 20, 2018
Review submitted by Mable Peach of Haverford High School
With a commonwealth of courageous women, a band of foolish Frenchmen, and a pack of smooth talking pirates, Phoenixville Area High School’s production of The Sea Voyage brought audiences into the heart of the Jacobean era.
This drama, originally written in 1622 by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger, was adapted for the high school by Rachael Joffred, a local dramaturg. With several allusions to Shakespearean dramas, The Sea Voyage portrays a more classical style of play with one exception: the gender roles are completely reversed. When a tempestuous storm leaves a group of French pirates shipwrecked on a mysterious island, the men struggle to survive. The island, however, happens to be inhabited by a pack of skilled women. The two groups meet, a love triangle ensues, and wits are put to the test.
Demanding maturity from its cast, The Sea Voyage is abound with complex language and thematic challenges. The cast of Phoenixville Area High School stood up to the challenge with poise and skill, presenting a well-executed and cleverly performed show.
As the only woman outside of the island’s commonwealth of women, Rachel Nolen’s portrayal of Aminta displayed emotional complexity and artistry. Her performance clearly exhibited the propriety and composure of European women of the time. Alek Wasserman portrayed smooth talking, impetuous Frenchman Albert. Wasserman developed a dynamic character during the show, angering audiences with Albert’s unfaithful nature and pleasantly surprising them with his change of heart.
The ensemble of Amazonian women, headed by Charis Singletary as Rosella and Morgan Bieler as Clarinda, lit up the stage with their assertive personalities and gripping stage combat. Another notable ensemble was the trio of foolish Frenchmen, with Brennan Becker as Lamure, Connor Hesse as Morillat, and Jack Kramer as Franville. With impeccable comedic timing and a flare for the dramatic, the actors certainly proved that good comedy comes in threes.
A minimalistic set lent itself to interpretation, while lighting designed by Mark Thompson evoked the mood of each scene. Though several microphone cues were missed, the sound crew did well to work a show with such a large number of speaking roles.
The Phoenixville Area High School cast performed a truly great rendition of The Sea Voyage, proving the relevance of 17th-century commentary in the modern era.
Review submitted by Anna Bobok of Upper Merion Area High School
Being shipwrecked in the Happy Islands may sound like paradise, but for the outrageous characters in Phoenixville Area High School’s The Sea Voyage, it’s anything but!
Following Shakespeare’s death, several playwrights brought their stories to his acting company, including John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. These two writers collaborated on The Sea Voyage, taking similar themes and archetypes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and presenting them in a comedic way. The story follows a band of shipwrecked French pirates who find themselves in the midst of a community of Amazon-like women that despise men. Plot twists, mix-ups, and hilarity ensue as the two groups try to come together despite their differences.
Phoenixville’s cast breathed new life into the nearly four hundred-year-old text with ease, using physical acting and expression to help the early modern English jokes come across to a new audience. This was especially noticeable in the performance by the three French fools, played by Brennan Becker (Lamure), Jack Kramer (Franville), and Connor Hesse (Morillat). Their over-the-top personalities came across even when they were not center stage, with brilliant pantomime that sometimes grabbed the audience’s attention from the main action.
Alek Wasserman (Albert) was quick to grab that attention back, however, as his commanding stage presence and charming portrayal of the lovesick pirate produced compelling moments of both comedy and drama. Another driving force of the drama was Rachel Nolen (Aminta). She captured her character’s intensity and strength perfectly, displaying heartache, jealousy, and utter despair with unparalleled emotion.
The women of the island also created distinct and convincing characters on the stage, despite their limited lines. Stand out performances from Logan Breunig (Crocale), Kyra Bernotas (Juletta), and Sophie Sullivan (Hippolyta) established the community as a united group of powerful women. Their moments of fight choreography were well done and helped lend to their characterizations of tough and assertive women.
Mark Thompson’s lighting design was sophisticated and compelling, as he brought a lightning storm and a lush forest to the stage with near professional quality. These atmospheres were further enhanced by a minimalistic yet beautiful set, managed by Camryn Dobey and Lexi Vazquez. Transitioning between these sets were Rachel Wasserman, Halee Reiman, and Sullivan Nowak, who made quick work of the scene transitions and helped the show continue smoothly.
Phoenixville’s rendition of Fletcher and Massinger’s comedy ensures that this Sea Voyage is an adventure that audiences will not soon forget!