When We Go Upon the Sea

  • Date:
    June 1, 2010
    Review by:
    Tulis McCall

    Review by Tulis McCall
    (18 Jun 2010)

    Oh bless you, Mr. Blessing. I can't recall when I have enjoyed myself more at a production about which I hadn't a clue as to what the heck was going on. I can't tell you what this show is about, but I can sure tell you to go see it for yourselves because you will have a great time.

    This is, in a teeny tiny nutshell, is the "what if" dream of all us sensible folk. What if George W. Bush was brought to trial in The Hague for Crimes against Humanity? Blessing goes one sep further: what if Bush spent his last night before turning himself in at a hotel, sans family, body guards and Secret Service, with only a Concierge and his companion? And what if these two attendants had, or appeared to have, only the best interests of this hotel guest at heart? How long would it take for Dubya to unravel?

    As it turns out, not long at all. The unravel, however, is so lacking in cliché as to be nearly embarrassing. There was a lot of "why didn't I think of THAT?" going through my mind as this threesome geared up for take-off. Blessing explores not only the Bush brain, but the power of owning the Seas, the relevance of Dutch history, permission, persuasion, and the difference between love and fear – an a whole lot more.

    Where I kept getting bumped off the hay wagon was when I tried to connect the moments as I went along. I finally gave up trying and had a better time because of it. One reason was because this is a team of cracker-jack actors. Conan McCarty (in spite of being the wrong height – George Bush is 6" but looks a lot shorter because of his short arms. Before you ask: Clinton 6'2". Obama 6'1") captures the core of Dubya without making him a parody. This Bush is more human than any Bush I ever saw, and thereby all the more disturbing. McCarty is brilliant at blending the comedy with the horrific. As Piet (pronounced Pete) Peter Schmidz is near perfect both in maintaining a near perfect Dutch accent, an elegant demeanor that makes him interested but not concerned in the events that he oversees. As Anna-Lisa Kim Carson combines intelligence and sensuality to create a woman who has escaped one web only to climb willingly into another.

    The facts are that these three spend a long night together and George is duly dispatched to his court date, after which our couple in residence settles in to wait for the next person who is in need of their ministrations.

    This is a wild and complicated story told as simply as possible. There is a touch of Charles Mee here, some Sarah Ruhl, and a little Beckett. It is a show that invites you to fasten your seatbelts and leaves the station before you have everything battened down. As a result you spend the ride slightly off balance but enjoying the scenery and the company nonetheless. It's a terrific evening.

    This is yet another feather in the cap of 59E59, which continues to create festival after festival and bring to New York unique productions that deserve to be seen. Congratulations all around.

    (Tulis McCall)