Close your eyes and listen to the sound of the waves, feel the sun on your skin, have a pina colada, smell the coconut oil. A couple baking happily on the sand seem to have found paradise until their life is turned upside down by a beautiful girl in bikini who has a thing for fruit salad and eastern philosophy. And what about the handsome waiter in a speedo? This is how a day at the beach turns into existential panic. Two floundering people struggle to figure it all out—literally—in this new comedy about love, sex, and the meaning of life by award-winning playwright Charles A. Duncombe.
Stage Raw – Top Ten! Recommended!
“Playwright Charles A. Duncombe’s farce on the absurdities of life, love, and oil spills, directed by Frédérique Michel, also serves as a wry skewering of celebrity culture, vapid consumerism, and the super-rich — ironically set in a locale that tends to hold those elements as virtues rather than vices….Michel’s staging balances the humor and pathos with equal panache and her cast does not equivocate. Beyer and Thompson hold our sympathy as the angst-ridden couple, and they deliver Duncombe’s machine-gun dialogue with skill and flamboyance. Weissberg (alternating with Marissa Diaz in some performances) holds her own as the youthful but wise Diana while Esser brings a tenderness to Rex’s otherwise chauvinist assistance in Anna’s hesitant quest for love.”
--Martin Hernandez, Stage Raw
“Wow!” Stage Scene LA
“A quartet of sunbathers philosophize on the sand in Charles A. Duncombe’s absurdist existential comedy Beach People, a City Garage World Premiere impressively acted by a skin-revealing cast of four…. Duncombe loves language, andamong Beach People’s assorted pleasures is anticipating the next next tongue-twisting turn of phrase its characters willdeliver. [His] latest opus is also quite funny….Over the course of Beach People’s brisk eighty-or-so minutes, Anna, Paul,Diana, and the latter’s male counterpoint (Kasey Esser as Rex, a tall, tanned, muscular hunk wearing only the briefest andtightest of red speedos) wax poetic on such varied topics as infinity, happiness, fame, ocean pollution, the super-rich, and thenature of true love, to name just a few….All of this adds up to a play whose avant-garde-ness puts it right up City Garage’salley….Frédérique Michel has elicited four delicious acting turns. British import Thompson (a young Jeremy Irons) delivers a performance every bit as crisp and captivating as his elegant London accent, and Ruiz and Esser give Diana and Rex sassand smarts to match their swimsuit-model bods. Most amazing of all is Beyer’s Anna, and not just because the City Garageregular has mastered some of the most challenging monologues (and snappy patter) I’ve heard on stage. Beyer also manages tomake Anna a real person with doubts and insecurities, and her attempts to play dumb in order to seduce Paul are a hoot.”
Steven Stanley, Stage Scene LA
“A fast paced comical drama (or dramatic comedy) that offers quick witty dialogue. It speaks an opus upon various topics that hold little to do with the sand and surf, but may be a metaphor about the subjects of the idle rich, what constitutes personal joy, and if a couple can compete with the “real” people of the beach. It’s a program that is fast placed while learning toward a lot of life’s questions that hold no answers. And that’s the best part!”
--Rich Borowy, Accessibility OnLine
“Take about a pound of Pirandello and a pinch of Beckett, add zest of Zen blend hot Existential angst, shake well, add more angst, try to figure out what Rex, the bartender (Kasey Esser), is doing as he stacks Jenga blocks on his bar, toss in a gorgeous [girl in a] teeny weeny string bikini filled to perfection by Diana (Naomi Helen Weissberg) and beneath a sky filled with beautiful scudding clouds, we have Lift Off….The actors are all having a terrific time and thanks to director Michel, their timing works nicely with a really, really impossible alliterative monologue by Anna (Angela Beyer) and a melt down by Paul (Henry Thompson) which brings the couple truly together, making for an opportunity for us to question our own philosophical trip.”
Michael Sheehan, On Stage Los Angeles
“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....[it] 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....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.”
Joseph Hazani, A Dilettante
“I want to flatly admit my fandom of City Garage in Santa Monica and of the playwright of Beach People, their latest production, Charles A. Duncombe. Who ever heard of an existentialist rom com?....This is a fun idea. More though, it is a funny show. Part of that, no doubt encouraged full bore by director Frederique Michel, lies in the physical comedy, both broad and subtle….Genuinely delightful as well as silly (and painfully true).”
David MacDowell Blue, The World Through Night Tinted Glasses