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On the Shore of the Wide World

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love -then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

— final lines of "When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be" the sonnet by John Keats that inspired the title of Simon Stephens' play.
On the Shore of the Wide World
C.J. Wilson and Mary McCann (photo Ahron R. Foster)
His terrific adaptation of Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time made Simon Stephens a star playwright. His most recent play Heisenberg also landed on Broadway. So credit the Atlantic Theater for producing some of his earlier plays: Harper Regan , Bluebird and now On the Shore of the Wide World.

I wish I could tell you that this 2005 family drama that won the 2006 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play had aged well and warranted its trip across the pond. Maybe the award winning British production was able to make these characters more interesting than they are at the Atlantic's Linda Gross stage. However, well before the the characters of this family drama come to grips with their various romantic hankerings and grief over a traumatizing tragedy I found myself wishing that this over-long play had never left its home shore.

While the concluding lines of John Keats' sonnet "When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be" make for a poetic sounding title. The play Stephens concocted from that stanza is more mundane than poetic. The cast, especially Atlantic regulars Mary McCann and Peter Maloney, ably handle their characters' reactions to the confinement of the familial shores and the painful loss of a beloved family member. But none of these people really seem worth getting to know — not Charlie and Ellen (Maloney and Blair Brown) the older generation. . . or the ones in the middle, Peter and his wife Alice (C.J. Wilson and McCann). . . nor their son Christopher (Wesley Zurick) who's already bound to leave the city of Stockport for London with his pill-popping girl friend Sarah (Tedra Millan) or his younger. . .and ultimately, not even the most touching character, Chris's younger brother Alex (Ben Rosenfield) who's hopelessly smitten with Sarah.

Neil Pepe's largo paced direction and Scott Pask's serviceable scenery to accommodate the ever shifting duos don't help. And the three peripheral players trigger thoughts of marital wanderings — Odiseas Georgiadis as Chiistopher's London friend with Sarah. . . Amelia Workman as the pregnant owner and Peter who's restoring her house, Leroy McClain as the man responsible for the big tragic event and Alice. All are too under developed to deepen our interest or step up the tedious pace are

We certainly need theater about the working class whose concerns are so vital to the state of today's world. It's too bad nothing any of these characters say to each other or reveal about themselves is a particularly resonates with the relevance of recent home grown plays like Sweat and The Humans.

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On the Shore of the Wide World by Simon Stephens
Directed by Neil Pepe
Cast: Blair Brown (Ellen Holmes), Odiseas Georgiadis (Paul Danzger), Peter Maloney (Charlie Holmes), Mary McCann (Alice Holmes), LeRoy McClain (John Robinson), Tedra Millan (Sarah Black), Ben Rosenfield (Alex Holmes), C.J. Wilson (Peter Holmes), Amelia Workman (Susan Reynolds).
Scenic design by Scott Pask
Costumetume design by Sarah Laux
Lighting design by Christopher Akerlind
Original music and sound by David Van Tieghem.
Wigs: Leah Lukas
Fight Director: J. David Brimmer
Dialect Coach: Stephen Gabis
Stage Manager:Hannah Sullivan
Running Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes, includes 1 intermission Atlantic Theater Company - Linda Gross Theater 336 West 20 Street
From 8/23/17; opening 9/12/`7; closing 10/08/17.
Tuesday at 7:00pm, Wednesday- Saturday at 8:00pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2:00pm (Sunday evening performance 7:00pm: 8/27; 9/3; 9/17Wednesday afternoon performance 2:00pm: 9/6; 9/20, 10/4).
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer on September 16th.

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