Berkeley hadn't been recognized as a hotbed for quality original plays and musicals until the last few years with productions such as Green Day's American Idiot at Berkeley Repertory Theatre as well as at the community theatre level with Shotgun Players' series The Salt Plays and Beardo.
Since 1996, another of Berkeley's companies, Impact Theatre, has done quality original productions of its own under artistic director, Melissa Hillman. Impact's latest offering, The Fisherman's Wife, under the direction of Ben Randle and a diverse cast has another top notch performance.
The Fisherman's Wife was written by Hollywood playwright & screenwriter Steve Yockey
and features several of the Bay Area's top thespians including principals Maro Guevara as Cooper and Eliza Leoni as Cooper's wife, Vanessa. In great support are Adrian Anchondo (as Thomas Bell); Sarah Coykendall (Squid); and Roy Landaverde (Octupus).
The play is based on a sea tale of a fisherman's struggles with a squid and octupus in the Pacific Northwest and is centered on the marital and sexual problems of a fisherman, Cooper, and his wife, Vanessa. After the introduction of the principals, the story becomes humorous with door-to-door salesman, Thomas Bell, who provides Vanessa with sexual toys and books to possible solutions to Cooper & Vanessa's problems in bed.
Meanwhile Cooper runs into a horrific experience while fishing out sea as he is taken by the Squid & her counterpart the Octupus. The play certainly has dramatic tones at the beginning; however, it becomes quite comical with Thomas Bell and as Cooper comes home to catch his wife having an affair with the salesman. The tale takes some odd twists and turns, but it is a brilliantly written play by Yockey.
Guevara and Leoni make a wonderful pair with amazing chemistry. The artistic range of both cannot be overstated, especially in the first half of the show. Anchondo as the salesman fills in all sorts of hilarity throughout the performance.
And Coykendall and Landaverde complete outstanding performances by the cast. Of note is Coykendall's wittiness and playful sexual charm that very few Bay Area actresses possess, especially as a puppeteer with Landaverde.
Randle's directions with regards to timely entrances, exits, and fantastic blocking of the actors were evident. Randle has another fine production after last year's success with Ray of Light Theatre's musical production of Assassins.
Anna Kendall's scenic design of the fishing town and the home is marvelous along with the fantastic never ending box of goods of Thomas Bell; Tunuviel Luv's props design were quite clever, including the amazing puppet show; and costume designs by Liz Weston were fitting for the show accentuating each of the characters physique nicely.
Read Tuddenham's lighting design was well done with good balance of warm and cool colors and timely transitions, and Colin Trevor's sound design were adequate for the production.
The Fisherman's Wife continues it's run through Sept. 29th at La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berkeley, CA 94709-1318. The show performs Thur-Sat @ 8 pm. For tickets, call (510) 224-5744 or click on the links below:
Impact Theatre website: http://www.impacttheatre.com/season/index.php
Ticket Turtle: https://www.ticketturtle.com/index.php?show=29575