Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby
Flint Community Players Ghost Light Series has combined with the OhR’lyeh Theatre Company to produce British playwright Fiona Evans’ Scarborough. Startling, now and then comical, often disturbing, this script is nonetheless intriguing and incisive. It is also intended for mature audiences.
A student and teacher have gone off to the North Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough to spend a weekend together. That situation in itself could make the story both tricky and even voyeuristically interesting, and it does. But there’s more as the tryst plays out and is then repeated verbatim with the role of student and teacher reversed.
OhR’lyeh’s co-founder Carl Mizell directs this production. His cast is small but impressive as they portray these socially, shall we say awkward, characters. He has a lot of stage area to work with, maybe too much, but it is used well. The scene is confined to a single room in a bed and breakfast and opens with what seems at first to be just a young couple enjoying a holiday.
Daz (Kyle Clark) and Lauren (Kristen Carter) have spent the night and are preparing to see the local sights. They seem compatible and comfortable with each other at least until Lauren suddenly balks at being seen with Daz in public. It all comes spilling out then – Lauren is Daz’s teacher and, at 29 she is 14 years his senior.
Suddenly we look at things differently. Clark’s youthful exuberance becomes teenage angst while Carter’s playful admonishments force us to perceive them as chastisements. Still, there is clear attraction between these characters. Staying in the room all weekend will bring moments of anger and rebuke, but also affection and tenderness.
Ultimately the love won’t last as both realize there is more operating here than meets the eye. Lauren reveals to Daz that she will marry her current partner who is much older than she. Maybe you can sense a pattern here.
The fact that we accept this affair as plausible and possible and even okay, says much for the playwright’s delivery of the story. But when the second half turns the characters around – well, the play takes on a new dimension.
This time Connor Klee plays the teacher and Layla Meillier is the student, and even though the lines are identical, there are personality facets that color the delivery. Perhaps the most interesting aspect this time is the dramatic irony this tactic creates. After all, we know what’s coming and the characters do not.
Meillier is bubbly but much more confident as this teen. She seems to dominate even Klee who is her senior. He, on the other hand, may seem slightly smarmy as the man seducing the young girl.
Did we mention dialect? The northern English/Scottish dialect is very well handled – sometimes so well it was difficult to understand until the ear became accustomed to it.
In the end, there is parting of the ways, but it is handled with masterful finesse.
This is a gentle and incisive look at a phenomenon we’ve all heard about but perhaps avoided dwelling on. We left the theatre impressed and thoughtful. Perhaps you will, too.
Scarborough continues at the Tom & Bea Nobles Performance Hall, 2462 S. Ballenger Hwy, Flint, MI 48507 through July 31. For more information and tickets contact the box office at 810-441-9302 or online at www.flintcommunityplayers.com