Opening with the eerie first verse of the song aptly named “Get Ready for the Apocalypse” (by Astrometrics), A Day at the Beach is quick to subvert its breezy title. Instead, the fifty-five-minute show litters a robust comedic base with philosophical questions and a meta absurdism, which makes for an entertaining, if not mildly confusing, watch.
The stage is simply set, with two cheery blue beach chairs providing the backdrop of a secluded beach on which two apparent strangers prepare to spend their last 55 minutes on earth. Witty and mysterious, Dahlia Vocque commands the stage as Windy, whose confident humour is used to mask her true, mythical identity. Alongside her appears the quieter, more sheltered Barbara May, played by Charlie Cardoza, whose sudden appearance on the beach catches the attention of Vocque. Against the backdrop of impending disaster, the two turn increasingly to drink as they delve into their past lives and inner thoughts.
Conversations between the two bounce from critical probing of the role of religious faith in the face of global catastrophe, to lighter outbursts on Barbara’s emotive hatred of Brad Pitt. Whilst these transitions are occasionally clunky, perhaps needing to commit more time to certain topics otherwise glossed over, Vocque and Cardoza warm to a steady to and fro of insightful ideas and quick-witted observations. The dialogue is frequently broken by the appearance of Skippy, played by Aaron Miller, who affectionately lightens the atmosphere with his bemusing interruptions.
Despite the slightly restrictive nature of the singular camera angle used to record the performance, the cast makes lively use of the props and staging. In addition, whilst the nature of the approaching danger could be explored in more depth, the recurrent use of the countdown helps maintain a good sense of momentum and suspense.Throughout, A Day at the Beach questions the way in which we form beliefs, what evidence we base them on and what it takes for us to believe someone. On this basis, whilst certainly ambitious, the unexpected twist which ends the performance seems particularly apt. Whilst it may cause many to rewind and rewatch that final scene, the play ends on a theme that is present all along, inviting us to question what we think we know.
Aug 6-30 online on demand
Image: Jaye Lee Vocque