Crow at Walkabout Theater | Theater review
Jeremy Sher shows us the ropes of a doomed solo sailor’s psyche in an engaging new work.
Russia won the space race, and America might be first to the moon, but Britain can reclaim the sea, says Donald Crowhurst (Jeremy Sher), working on a potential investor in his bid to circumnavigate the globe. Never mind that the real-life Crowhurst, a 37-year-old electrical engineer, was barely an amateur sailor himself; he believed in tomorrow, which Sher’s new solo piece makes out like something worth celebrating, even if belief wasn’t enough to see Crowhurst through.
While the U.S. and Russia had their eyes on the skies, Britain was in the grip of sailing fever in 1968 following Sir Francis Chichester’s solo trip the year before. The Sunday Times sponsored a race to repeat the feat, which is how Crowhurst found himself at sea, literally and figuratively.
Sher’s script approximates some of the rambling prose discovered in Crowhurst’s logbook when his ship was encountered ghosting across the ocean nine months after he set sail. In a sometimes trancelike state, he tenderly addresses his wife, Clare, or waxes on about his hero, Albert Einstein. (Later, when he begins talking to an overhead seagull, he names it Albert.) All the while, he rigs and realigns the ropes that eventually crisscross the stage, becoming the show’s central visual metaphor—the lines that connect us to our past and future, and to our lives with others even when we’re alone. Sher’s facility with those ropes, and sometimes on them (Lucky Plush’s Meghann Wilkinson and 500 Clown’s Adrian Danzig provide movement direction), is mesmerizing, though even at 80 minutes, his show feels a tad too long.