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San Francisco Fringe 2017

A Day at the Beach

Ultrasuede Productions

Genre: Dark Comedy

Venue: Exit Theatre


Low Down

“A beautiful day. A secluded beach. Two strangers. The end of the world approaching. What could go wrong? What could go right? From Jaye Lee Vocque, the writer who brought you last year’s SF “Best of” winner BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS. This Dramedy explores what happens when a woman with stunted growth and a free spirit go through the five stages of grief. Questioning faith, the future, and how much alcohol does it take to forget your worries.”


Two characters lay on the beach reading. We see an attractive beachy looking set with colorful folding chairs and personal items. Barbara Ann takes a while to settle down, while Windy is comfortable. In this one-hour play written by Jaye Lee Vocque, co-directed by Amber Blount and Nichole Pendley, we know from their dialogue that they don’t know each other. It’s all rather relatable as one wants to talk to the other, who would prefer to stay private. Windy, played by Karene Vocque is confident and even a bit pushy in a nice way, as she sees it more like helping out a shy character, Barbara Ann, played by Mariah Cardoza.

The two women banter and Windy challenges with deeper topics. The dialogue is interesting – they share different opinions as they sit and have a drink – and talk about how the end of the world is coming! They take themselves seriously and there is humor, which comes from their performances and how they inhabit their lines, and, given the topic, the humor is not over done. Another element that brings humor is the brief appearance of Skippy, a surfer dude, played by Aaron Miller. His character is outgoing and chatty, he’s an old friend of Windy and is happy being sent off by her to buy refreshments several times, while she gets to know Barbara Ann. His appearances also punctuate the play, provide history to Windy’s character and provoke us to think about how they know each other and at what level, drawing us in to question Windy’s complex past.

Each character speaks in their own voice, and Jaye Lee Vocque’s writing clearly differentiates between the characters, their moods, opinions and interactions. The dialogue is full of family stuff, wit, sarcasm, spirited repartee and a couple of more intense topics. The play is well paced and directed by Blount and Pendley. Drinking wine opens them up and Barbara Ann has an interesting moment relating to her past, it’s fascinating how these characters can go deep, too. Windy is worldly and perceptive, on the edge and has her own foibles. There’s a theme of searching for life and meaning in this play, it’s poetic with rich language and imagery. When Windy talks about mythology and the apocalypse, her quirky logic is all encompassing.

Karene Vocque’s Windy is gutsy and earthy, while Cardoza’s Barbara Ann is believably tightly wound and begins to loosen up. Both actors both play well off of each other – plus Miller’s entrances and brief encounters with the women are fun and authentic. So time goes by in this entertaining one act play, which becomes a tad circular two thirds of the way through and could benefit from slight reigning in. However, the play is provocative and fascinating – especially in its denouement at the end. I was completely surprised!