For us in the Lowcountry, "The Outgoing Tide" is a very meaningful title. We live next to the ocean. We know that an incoming tide brings life with it, and an outgoing tide takes it away. The title of Bruce Graham's beautiful play becomes even more meaningful when one considers that it is the final production by The South Carolina Repertory Company, capping 22 years of "The Rep" bringing pleasure and, yes, joy to its patrons.
It is also an appropriate final curtain -- it is a work of amazing power, performed by a talented cast. This jewel, under the direction of Brian P. Allen and a creative set designed and built by Stephen Underwood features Will Rhys, Florence Lacy, and J.P. Guimont is a fitting, sad, happy farewell for SCRC.
The production, is presented in collaboration with The Good Theatre in Portland, Maine, where it finished a successful run before transferring its cast, set and magic on Hilton Head Island.
A man of a certain age, his wife and his soon-to-be-divorced middle-aged son are faced with the deteriorating cognitive health (think Alzheimer's disease) of the crusty gentleman. He does not want to be forced into assisted living, where he will lose more and more of himself to his disease. He wants to control his destiny and to arrange his affairs so that his two survivors will have comfortable lives.
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He creates a complex plan to accomplish this, arguing, cajoling, demanding, and insisting that he be allowed to do things his way and only his way.
It's a familiar story, but here it is gripping and new as the characters -- and I don't mean cast, I do mean character -- live their story so realistically that we lose sight of the fact we are in a theater. We are seeing not actors, but Gunner, Peg and Jack themselves as they work their way toward an acceptable solution to their problems.
How does it all end? I won't give that away but I guarantee that the phrase "The Outgoing Tide" will take on new and touching overtones for those who share this experience.
A sincere thank you to Pat and Hank Haskell for 22 amazing years and wonderfully touching farewell with "The Outgoing Tide."