By Matthew Freeman; Directed by David Cote
Produced by Theater Accident
Off Off Broadway, Solo Play
Runs through 10.12.19
The Brick Theater, 579 Metropolitan Avenue
by Ed Malin on 10.6.19
Robert Honeywell in The Sea The Mountains The Forest The City The Plain. Photo by Kerry Lee Chipman.
BOTTOM LINE: This is the kind of monologue that will make you feel better about life.
New Dramatists fellow Matthew Freeman teams up with Robert Honeywell, co-founder of the Brick, and noted author and journalist David Cote, who directs here, to create the accurately named The Sea The Mountains The Forest The City The Plain. I hope you're feeling excited already—I can't think of any team better qualified to bring you 75 minutes of a thoroughly diverting monologue. This is not easy to do, folks. Somewhere between a Jack London adventure and a Samuel Beckett novel, this tale lets Robert Honeywell narrate one Man's journey through highs and lows, life and death, loneliness and society.
At the sea, our narrator, an unsuccessful thief and many other things, greets us with the news that his long-time companion is no longer with him. The two men had both lost their lady friends—one died and the other fortuitously left. So, where did the other man go? Much of the tension in this play comes from uncertainty, something found much more often in the real world than in fiction. Did the other man drown, or fall off a cliff? Or is he purposely avoiding our narrator? Thus, we go on a journey through all the places listed in the title, searching partly out of vengeance and partly from nostalgia. What else can be done? As the narrator says, “Time keeps on, even after there's no more scotch.”
After the sea we head into the woods, not nearly as pleasant and safe a place as one might imagine. Rather, “walking through a forest is like attending a funeral for someone you've never met.” Further clues include the discovery of the companion's suitcase, which might mean he's coming back but could also mean he didn’t feel like carrying it up the mountain. Amid the good-natured competition with his absent friend, the narrator decides to lie down and die, something that will surely make his friend upset. Unfortunately, it doesn't work, for “more is required to die than just good sense.” No, this treacherous pal must be tracked into the city, and that’s a whole 'nother story.
Robert Honeywell’s compassion and humor certainly help this story run. This is not some psychological picaresque tale, though it certainly could have been. Our narrator seems to be talking to us, in a very relatable way, about things we might have been thinking. He says of a tranquil night, “I wished the sea would shut the fuck up.” Kerry Lee Chipman's set brings us through places we are not likely to go, delicately suggesting off-putting dangers (who knew leaves could give a paper cut?). Nicholas Houfek's lighting makes loneliness and vengeance easy to understand. Jumping off from a quote of Beckett's, Matthew Freeman has deftly written a tale rich in humanity that is very hard to predict, even if we have a roadmap in the title. David Cote's directing blows open stereotypes so we can see all the feelings and thoughts of our mysterious Man. He is us, isn't he?
(The Sea The Mountains The Forest The City The Plain plays at The Brick Theater, 579 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, through October 12, 2019. The running time is 75 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8. Tickets are $25 and are available at bricktheater.com. For more information visit theateraccident.org.)
The Sea The Mountains The Forest The City The Plain is by Matthew Freeman. Directed by David Cote. Scenic Design by Kerry Lee Chipman. Lighting Design by Nicholas Houfek. Sound Design by Chris Chappell. Additional Producer is Stacey Weckstein. Stage Manager is Jodi M. Witherell.
The cast is Robert Honeywell.