Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alone at the Beach - by Richard Dresser

Premiered at the Humana festival in 1988, Alone at the Beach is an ensemble comedy in three acts. Each act takes place over a holiday weekend over one summer, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. It takes place at a house in the Hamptons. George has inherited the house from his grandmother and has brought on five people to share the house, selecting them on a first come first serve basis.

The first act has the characters arriving and sets up the 'how will these folks ever get along?' question, and a quickly developing romance between George and recently divorced Molly begins. The second act opens with George throwing a Birthday party for Molly - but she's gone back to her ex-husband who is coming out to the house with her for the weekend. Her ex-husband Joe also happens to be George's therapist - who's been unknowingly listening to the details of his ex-wife's affair with George for the past month. Drugs are taken, a three-some is initiated and a dog is run-over. In the final act some new alliances are made as everyone packs up for the summer. George and Molly re-connect at the end, they've made changes in order to be closer - Molly's planned to move out to the Hampton's full-time while George has sold the house to return to the city. Paths cross and continue to miss one another.

The title is the play - each character is alone at the beach - and though stabs at closeness are made, all pretty much end up alone at the end of the summer. It's kind of a mirror up to nature play. It is set in the late '80s, a particular time and place. The interest and humor is watching these strangers get to know on another, stumble on each other's personalities and try to come together over the summer. And then, kindof like the end of summer, the connections evaporate along with the season.

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