Selkie at The Wild Project is a fun play. It has humor, absurdism, it makes you think a little and has a very creative set. Set in a fishing village, Deanna and Keaton are in love. Keaton is a gentile soul, who cares for Deanna. We don’t know what brought them here, but we soon find out. Keaton is not the person we think—not by a long shot. Keaton is a stealthy, greedy person who we come to know as not caring at all about Deanna. Deanna, is a weak person who puts up with him because she lacks the courage to leave him and go home. It gets worse for her as the play goes on—drugs, confinement and complete dominance has engulfed her life.
Krista Knight has written an interesting play. Based on mythical seals—in Irish, Scottish, Icelandic and Scandinavian folklore, when female selkies shed their seal coat, whoever controls the coat, controls them. Knight brings into the play much symmetry. She has us compare human reaction to the selkie. She forms a triangle with the three characters, one man, two females. The male is able to dominate the two, but in the end, not out smart them. The two females take much abuse from Keaton, they band together to eventually defeat evil, having the good, to win out.
With a small stage, Matt Dickson works well with the different motel rooms that the characters move about nicely. The set design is very creative. Reid Thompson does a magnificent job with the beach scenes, the bar scenes and the motels. Thompson’s vision of creating the beach is both innovative and simplistic. Selkie would not work with the aforementioned, nor would it work without terrific sound design. Asa Wember created the water and the selkies bantering, driving Keaton mad. Cecilia Durbin brings a very good mood to the show. We feel like we too are on vacation, on this fishing paradise with the three performers.
All three performers do an admirable job, but this show belongs to Keaton, (Federico Rodriguez). Rodriguez is able to switch gears in this performance. We believe him in the beginning as a soft nice guy. We believe him when he is a drug dealing creep. The audience is moved by his violence, as well as surprised, because we cannot believe this same nice person is really nasty and plotting as hell. Reminiscent of Sam Rockwell, Rodriguez is exceptional in his role and single handedly carries this play on his back. He creates, sets the mood as to where this play should go. Directed smartly, Keaton keeps us on edge.
Produced by Dutch Kills Theater Company, Selkie in The Wild Project Theater is a very comfortable setting. The play has a lot of humor, some really serious things to it as well. As a drug dealer, a wife beater and aloof to anyone’s feelings, Knight wraps this all in nicely. Selkie with a little refinement could become a really good play. The campiness is fun at times, and cookie at others. The middle of the show could be tightened up a little and more mainlined to make the play go more smoothly. We never fully get the relationship of Keaton and Alondra. What was she for him? We get ideas, but we never get the full effect of the relationship. The dialogue with Keaton and the selkies was good, it should have had more. As the play went on, Knight should have given us more of it. The projection design was interesting, what exactly were we seeing? What was the meaning of it? Two good actors, Deanna (Toni Ann De Noble and Alondra Elia Monte-Brown), should have more clarity in their relationship to one another. I think the play would be more lineal if Krista Knight did that, and hence, would be more smooth.