American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

SEASCAPE WITH SHARKS AND DANCER (first perf. 1984; pub. 1974). The setting of this play by Don Nigro (1949- ) is a beach house on Cape Cod.* A struggling writer, Ben, has just fished a young woman, Tracy, out of the Atlantic Ocean. Ben presumes that she was drowning, but Tracy insists that she was dancing. As Tracy warms herself in Ben’s beach house with hot chocolate, the two share childhood memories, tell stories, discuss the general pattern of their lives, and argue. After some time of confinement together, however, the two draw together and become lovers. Two months pass, and they continue to live together, but without any growth in the relationship, ostensibly due to Tracy’s fear of attachment. Through nightmares and stories, she illuminates her belief that attachment leads to disappointment and pain.

The sea reflects Tracy’s view of an uncaring world. She describes the sea as dirty and dead, as a habitat for sharks that are unblinking, vacant, and disinterested creatures despite their awareness of human presence. Her actions throughout the play, including her decision to abort the baby that she and Ben conceive, demonstrate her personal inability to bond while at the same time she tries to elicit a caring relationship from Ben. [See also COLUMBUS PLAYS; DRAMA OF THE SEA]

Brian Knetl