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Coach House’s ‘Sea Marks’ ‘excellent’

3/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

‘Performers take audience on romantic adventure’

Tracee Patterson and Terry Burgler star in Coach House Theatre’s “Sea Marks.”
Photo: Scott Custer
WEST AKRON — When the waves crash on the shore, they slowly wear down any cliffs or other mountains or hills and leave marks on the terrain. These marks, called sea marks, give the name to Coach House Theatre’s production, “Sea Marks,” which is on stage through April 7.

Emotional sea marks might be left on people. These marks indicate exceptional occurrences in a person’s life. Colm Primrose (Terry Burgler) saw Timothea Stiles (Tracee Patterson) at a wedding. He may have spoken to her. When he returned home, he started writing to her and, to his delight, she wrote to him.

She left Liverpool, England, to visit with him in Ireland and invited him to visit her. They slowly fall in love. At the moment he realizes they’ll be sharing a bed in her flat, he confesses he’s a virgin. This scene is played with warmth, charm and humor.

Burgler is at his best as the shy, quiet man of the sea who has earned a sea mark by falling in love for the first time.

In “Sea Marks,” Patterson plays a career woman who works for a publishing company. Patterson makes her character beautiful and kind, yet tough. She knows what she wants and sets about to get him. She works to file away his rough edges and make Colm her idea of a Prince Charming.

Playwright Gardner McKay earned his first national fame as the lead in the TV series “Adventures in Paradise.” He was tall, handsome and had a good speaking voice. He appeared in more than 100 TV movies and episodes. He taught writing classes at several universities and became the drama critic and theater editor for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. “Sea Marks” is one of his five published plays. He also wrote several novels.

“Sea Marks” is well written. McKay approached the script as an actor and wrote two well-crafted characters. The dialogue has a lilting, musical quality. In the opening scene, Colm and Timothea read their letters aloud. These letters are sweet harmonious poetry, which help the audience understand that Colm and Timothea are falling in love long before they realize it.

Burgler designed the set, which functioned well on the small Coach House stage. Burgler gave the bed a featured spot, center stage. This is where another sea mark takes place.

“Sea Marks” is an excellent production of a fine script. The performers take the audience on a romantic adventure that combines humor, pathos and charm.

For ticket information, call 330-434-7741.


David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.

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