Williamston casts magic over a tale of middle age
by Bridgette Redman
“Sirens,” the newest production of the Williamston Theatre, is suffused with the magic regulars have come to expect, plus playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer mixes in a bit of Greek mythology and treats it as if it were real, adding magic to an otherwise straightforward story.
Directed by Tony Caselli, “Sirens” takes the audience on a journey through the mid-life crisis of a songwriter who is wondering if all his best days are past. His wife doesn’t understand why he feels such a sense of loss and craving for the passion of youth. Her love for him has always been enough and she’s never wavered. But he is seeking a lost passion, a feeling of love that he thinks he can find in his youth or in younger women. That is, until he has an encounter with a siren who uses passion to kill her victims. She’s willing to give men a moment of incredible passion in exchange for their lives.
But what makes this show magical isn’t just the script. It’s everything that everyone involved does with the show. Husband-and-wife team John Seibert and Terry Heck play husband and wife Sam Abrams and Rose Adelle Abrams. Their chemistry as a couple is undeniable. Heck has a thick New York accent and talks right through Seibert, her character willing to engage in the most uncomfortable arguments in front of any witness. She grows through a series of changes, reacting to her husband’s midlife crisis with one of her own.
Seibert, meanwhile, convincingly portrays a man who has lost his moorings. He’s chasing after a dream, a song, trying to find it in his lost youth even at the cost of the wife who loves him and the life they have built. But he portrays the struggle believably, especially when Sam is being tempted and he comes to realize what is at risk.
Katie Noyes plays three roles in the play but is most delightful as the Siren, a self-absorbed creature that gleefully kills with the same enthusiasm she plays electronic solitaire. The siren is utterly indifferent to Sam’s fate, informing him that he was supposed to perish. It is both funny and a little chilling the way in which the seeming answer to all of Sam’s pursuits is that which most wants to destroy him. Noyes hits a perfect note for this evil creature, beautiful, child-like and mesmerizing.
Mark Schenfisch plays the surreal role of a 40-something-year-old man who looks to Rose Adelle — and to the audience — as a man in his early 20s. He’s creepy in how quickly he seduces and in his emphasis on visiting Long Island.
But the magic doesn’t stop with the acting or the directing that keeps this show constantly moving and has actors talking over each other in a most realistic manner. The technical design and execution of this show adds its own magic to the play.
Matthew Imhoff builds a set that starts with a gorgeous, blue-tiled backdrop and then tilted decks that transform into houses, travel agencies, a cruise ship, an island, a boat and a restaurant. It is elegant in the way it accommodates all these different locations with quick changes that contribute to each scene’s unique moods and demands.
Sam is a one-hit wonder songwriter, the one song he wrote being a wild success and the one he wrote to capture his love for the woman who would marry him because of it –“Rose Adelle.” Each scene change has a different “cover” of the song, sung in different styles as if different bands and artists were performing it. Add to it the waters, the siren song and lots of other effects, and Sound Designer Will Myers creates a soundtrack that is enchanting.
There is a lot to love about “Sirens.” The team of storytellers at Williamston Theatre manage every element to tell a tale of a middle-aged couple who must choose between rediscovering their lives or pursuing a lost passion of a different age. It’s charming, endearing and strikes a note of hope and promise.