Fathers and daughters have special relationships, and the past has a way of becoming your present no matter how far away you go. Local playwright Jade Schuyler incorporates both ideals in “The Tuna Goddess,” her first play and a world premiere at Brewster’s Cape Rep Theatre.
Let me start out by saying this; this show is hilarious. Everyone who sees it will agree but especially those of us who live in the fishing community of Chatham. Schuyler effectively captures it all: the swagger, the quiet nature, the inside jokes, the ups and downs of the industry that are all part of the life of a fisherman and a fishing community.
On opening night following a joyous standing ovation, the playwright accepted praise by acknowledging the whole team involved in the production. And it truly is a complete package, an excellent production. The cast and the production team have succeeded in creating a seamless show that draws you in and keeps you enthralled from the first scene (loved the moonlight shining through the window) to the payoff finale.
Director Art Devine had to convince Schuyler to play Alex, the lead in the show. If so, Devine made the right call. Schuyler, no stranger to the stage, is very convincing as the estranged daughter who returns home to claim her inheritance. And Lewis D. Wheeler nails the fisherman demeanor in his portrayal of Pete, Alex’s father’s first mate for “16 years.” The genuine chemistry, banter and camaraderie between the two is fantastic. We especially loved the closing scene of act one! You will too!
Ten minutes in we knew that Deb (Julie Allen Hamilton) was a “no BS,” salt of the earth, a real tell-you-what-you-might-not-want-to-hear kind of gal. We also discovered that Shawn (Ryan Sheehan) was a sweet simpleton, and Sully (Noah Pelty) deserved the derogatory moniker Alex gave him. The characters were well-written and superbly portrayed by these fine actors. The flashback scenes with a young Alex (Larkin Fox and Maya Anastasio share the role) and her father (Paul Schuyler, Jade’s husband) are enlightening and add a crucial layer to the story. Fox handled this pivotal role with a sweet maturity, and Paul easily fell into his emotional part with true passion. Anthony Teixeira as Richard was so good at being pompous that you disliked him immediately.
On opening night the set received a round of applause when revealed; kudos to set designer Ellen Rousseau for this. Susan Nicholson’s lighting enhanced the beauty of the well-done set. Portions of the sound design reminded me of the walk-up songs of a baseball batter. The songs played during the blackout scene changes ingeniously, applied to the action you just saw unfold. Great job Jay Sheehan, sound designer. The authentic sound effects when on the sea were spot on too; stage manager Kate Gulden hit every cue perfectly. Add in the effective costumes (Robin McLaughlin) and bona fide props (Connor J. Whiteley) and you have that complete package I mentioned before.
We were captivated for the entire two hours. “I didn’t want it to end,” said my theater companion
“The Tuna Goddess”
At Cape Rep Theatre, Route 6A, Brewster
Through July 21, Tuesday to Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.
Information and reservations: 508-896-1888, www.caperep.org