Most families have things that pass between them that remain uniquely their own. Jokes, traditions, and stories about family members help them create a lure that becomes a part of their own history. Should they share these things with non-family members? What should stay private and what can or should be shared? A new play, “The Seedbed” by Bryan Delaney now playing at Long Branch’s New Jersey Repertory Company theater seeks to answer those questions.
Playwright Bryan Delaney hails from Dublin, Ireland with an impressive background including running the New Playwrights Programme at The Abbey Theatre which is Ireland’s national theatre. “The Seedbed” is directed by SuzAnne Barabas. It is set in present day Ireland at the home of a family made up of wife and mom Hannah, husband and stepfather Thomas and until recently daughter Maggie. This was a later in life marriage for Thomas and Hannah. Mom Hannah had daughter Maggie from a previous marriage. Thomas had been an active father figure to Maggie who his thinks of as his own daughter.
We are introduced to Thomas and Hannah when she gives a gift of small birds to him to celebrate their upcoming wedding anniversary. Thomas doesn’t have much time to enjoy his new pets as daughter Maggie comes to visit with her fiancée Mick. Mick is much older than 18 year old Maggie and it is a concern from the start for Thomas, but not for mom Hannah. Thomas also has concerns about a dress Maggie has on when she comes into the house. “Don’t let your mother see you wearing that dress” he asks of her. And so the mystery of why and what is going on begins.
There are many light moments in the show, but others that cause the audience to pause and consider what is happening. There is no dead air time at all; the play moves along a good pace with a run time of approximately 2 hours, 15 minutes with a 15 minute intermission. The cast includes Gina Costigan as Hannah, Kevin Hogan as Thomas, Michael Louis Serafin-Wells as Mick and Cathryn Wake as Maggie.
At a recent visit to see this show, the audience was treated to an after talk with playwright Delaney, the cast, and Director SuzAnne Barabas. Comments from the audience made it clear that they had enjoyed watching the layers of the plot open and display more clues that might have led to the eventual conclusion of what the problem was. It is not fair to give the ending away here, but suffice it to say that it’s slightly open ended and it could be left to the interpretation of the viewer. Here’s to hoping that Delaney decides to continue the saga of this family and comes back to NJ Repertory with another play to tell us what happened as life went on for this group. These characters are that interesting and the storytelling in the play makes for a most interesting visit to see this show.
Performances continue through Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015 at New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch, New Jersey. Tickets and may be purchased by calling 732-229-3166 or at www.njrep.org.