‘Beach People’ by Charles A. Duncombe @ City Garage Theatre

August 10, 2022

Where is happiness found if not on a beach? It is that irony that is the center-piece to the theatrical excitement and excellently florid script of Beach People written by Charles A. Duncombe, directed by Frédérique Michel, premiering at City Garage Theatre. While transparently proud in its existentialist reduction to being contemporary man, the play does not sink us with whiny verbosity on the anxieties of what tropical cocktail to order. Such dramatic offerings provide a glimpse into the obliviousness of the characters awareness of the trials and travails of the “causalities of the streets” likely miles away from the fictionally portrayed beach. What makes Beach People’s originality fun is in its uninterruptible chatter of where most of humanity is converging towards: with now greater swaths of leisure, what next?


From Left to Right: Paul (Henry Thompson), Diana, a beach beauty (Naomi Helen Weissberg), Anna (Angela Beyer). Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein. Courtesy of City Garage Theatre.


To be sure, beach blankets are their own rechargeable device. Away from the hustle and bustle and metropolitan mayhem inducing many lives working towards what goal but more beach trips? Yet once the beach has arrived after ticketing and reservations, after that pop non-fiction literature on Descartes’ Desserts or something to that effect has been unpacked, once the prepared and methodical conscription toward cocktails commences, what then? It is here where the play introduces a sharp-tongued wit which sings in the laughable absurdity of being inundated in such a technologically complex world whereby no one has any idea of how any of it all works. While the Internet can offer us copious reductive accounts of what we are, it has yet to give us an answer on how to use what we are to make us happy. Clearly, Beach People informs us that happiness is not as simple as a purchase price.


From Left to Right: Rex, a handsome waiter (Kasey Esser), Anna (Angela Beyer). Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein. Courtesy of City Garage Theatre.


What is so consistent with this anthem of the absurd in Western High Culture in the last century is in the crisis of ample ambulatory range thanks to trade, whilst creating a vacuum of spiritual presence to accompany the rapid affordability of, say, a Club Med retreat. Can one honestly play catch-up with one’s spiritual cultivation over a week or weekend? Maybe there is a nuevo-spiritual savant who can help answer the churning questions which move every physical body to inform the personhood on the formation of its own soul’s passage through this cosmic sea and its endless waves which will always need formidable navigation? For a fee, of course.


From left to right: Paul (Henry Thompson), Anna (Angela Beyer). Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein. Courtesy of City Garage Theatre.


It is here where an authentic soul or being is needed to relax these waves which now reach more and more personal shores. Once away from the city life and its clear contests and status prizes which are thin window dressings to the immortal tasks in life, anxiety ripens: what am I doing here? Am I significantIs my experience only vanity?


Even with a reduction of physical facts of the incomprehensible tininess any of our current breaths are in the ultimate ordering facts of the Natural universe, it is in that rarity of our ability to reason what to be or how to move our self which is its own invisibly beauty; that this beauty navigates permanently in an electromagnetic world which does not operate by chance, but by mathematical precision so continuous (physically demonstrated by computer technology) it can only be described as other-worldly. And yet, as Heraclites was anxious about some 2,500 odd years ago[1] humanity is asleep to ponder and to wonder about its own endlessness, likely because of the conscientiousness so many have at winning the “purchasing prize” – that moral idea of he or she who can buy the most moves the best. This goal, however, may not amount to greater forms of self-knowledge, which causes greater demonstrations of physical beauty. The best physical beauty ought to be endless, timeless, universal, ergo immortal in its fulfillment; not temporary pleasure-seeking. That the point of resting is to be doing more (per Aristotle) is lost when so many have not yet found the lost wisdom of the ancients in how to be happy with personal progress at limitlessly harmonious goals. This knowledge is the experience of being virtuous.


Anna (Angela Beyer) and Paul (Henry Thompson) each uniquely wrestle with their own presence being occupied by the whirlwind emotions of the natural hormonal reflexes imposed upon their bodies while on the beach by the physical presence of two gorgeous bodies (Diana played by Naomi Helen Weissberg and Rex, played by Kasey Esser). The fact there is not so much a settlement but a wordless resignation in finding the joy in each other as an end of their restlessness away from the “real world” with a final moment in the sun speaks to the cosmic ordering and creative wisdom of the world: love is all you really need. There is simply a measure of those who are confident with this axiom and those who remain insecure in trusting its truth. Perhaps because it hasn’t been self-realized yet? How is possible with such maniacal obsessions at social gratification which lack the precious invisible intimacy of melding with another soul forever? Beach People affirms, then, this wordless harmony amidst the chaotic flux of merchandising mania with the 3rd night being free at the resort if you order now!


[1] See: Werner Wilhelm Jaeger, and Edward S Robinson. The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers : The Gifford Lectures, 1936. Pp 109-127. Eugene, Or., Wipf & Stock Pub, 2003.


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