First performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1973, Edward Bond’s The Sea is a comedy with dark undertones. Set in a seaside village on the east coast of England in 1907, it portrays in microcosm the paranoia and brutality that lay underneath the seemingly prosperous and settled world of pre-1914 Imperial Britain, with its class system and its xenophobia.
A local man is drowned returning to his native village by the sea during a violent storm. His companion, an outsider, survives. The village is an out-of-the-way community, dominated by Mrs Rafi, a forceful upper middle-class lady who bullies everyone mercilessly. The outsider is regarded by Hatch, the half-mad local draper, as an alien from another world. The climax of the play, a bizarre funeral service on the cliff top, reveals the hysteria and insanity that underlies the community. The play ends, however, on a note of muted optimism, with a plea that the world should be changed, a message that has as much resonance today as it did over thirty years ago.
Born in North London in 1937, Edward Bond is probably the most imaginative and visionary playwright to emerge from the famous Writers Group at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in the 1960s. His uncompromising view of the world as a fundamentally violent place, the violence chiefly initiated and backed up by the establishment, and his insistence on its portrayal on the stage, has repeatedly created outrage over the last forty years. Two of his plays, Saved (1966) and Early Morning (1968) were banned by the Lord Chamberlain (the Royal censor of plays in the UK before the post was abolished in 1968). Major works include Lear (1971), The Sea (1973), The Fool (1975), Bingo (1973), The Woman (1978), The War Plays (1980s). He has also written screenplays and opera libretti.
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Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, Whitsun Edition (May 14th), page 17
“The boundaries between banality and horror, between pathos and comedy are fluid… Every scene is structured in an experienced and coherent way. The roles are appropriately portrayed on stage, all the actors speak loudly and clearly, making even a foreign-language play easily understandable. The comic episodes are especially well-done.”
Dresdner, August edition, 2005
“…The first production (The Sea by Edward Bond) was presented at Rudi in May and received notice from many quarters…”