slice of life

‘Laura and the Sea’ comments on tragedy with humor

Courtesy of Mike Davis

Adam Coy, Adele Fish and Dominic Martello perform in the first ever production of "Laura and the Sea."

“Laura and the Sea” opened a two-week run to a packed house Saturday, with a cast of six Syracuse University drama students. This is the first time the play has been performed.

The play follows the inner-workings of a travel agency after it loses one of it’s workers, Laura, to suicide. The five remaining members of the small company each grapple with Laura’s death in different ways, all remembering her through sharing memories on a company-created blog.

The show’s playwright Kate Tucker was thinking about her life in the future while writing it.

“The thought experiment was if I projected my life 20 years into the future,” the 26-year-old said, “what set of circumstances would make life feel like it wasn’t worth living anymore.”

But while the inception for “Laura and the Sea” could be considered somewhat gloomy, the play combined elements of comedy with the introspective subject matter.

One of the blog posts, written by the office’s token young, spunky worker, Mary, encouraged her colleagues to engage in a moment of silence.

“When you read this, at your own pace, take 3 minutes of silence,” Mary said.

When Mary, played by sophomore acting major Adele Fish, finished her monologue, timers counting back from three minutes were projected onto the office floor in front of each worker’s desk. With two minutes and 50 seconds still remaining on the clock, Laura’s assistant, Joe got up to shred a piece of paper, breaking the moment of silence and sending the audience into a fit of laughter.

Joe is played by sophomore acting major Dominic Martello.

At one point, Laura’s old phone rings, and another worker, Stan, hesitantly answers it. He has a conversation with whoever’s on the other line about where Laura has gone, and quickly becomes upset.

“I’m fine. I’m just hungry. I’m fine,” he said, afterwards slamming the phone back on the hook. Stan, played by senior acting major Adam Coy, then picked up a red stapler, looked carefully at it and then threw it at the wall. His coworkers were frightened but the audience was amused.

While the show surely has its comedic relief, the true substance lies in its dialogue on life and death.

Laura, played by junior musical theater major Sabrina Fosse, has a particularly sarcastic and dry sense of humor. She hints subtly and not so subtly at why she’s so unhappy, referencing failed romantic relationships, aging as a woman in America and the passive nature of her work among other things.

“I wasted half my life on the internet and now I’m wasting my afterlife,” she said, watching her co-workers discuss the blog.

Lydia Herter, a high school student whose parents both work at the Syracuse Stage/SU Drama Complex, enjoyed that the show incorporated elements atypical of theater productions. She was there with four friends, and they liked the lighting effects, and how all dialogue not regarding Laura’s death was silent, the actors setting the scene with their body language only.

Herter’s mom and production manager for the show, Diana Angell said people should come watch “Laura and the Sea” for the same reasons they would watch any other show. She said “Laura and the Sea” talks about issues people actually face in their lives.

“It’s a little slice of life,” she said.

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