Entertainment » Theatre

The Old Man and the Sea

by Michael Martin
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Sunday Mar 14, 2010
David Pendleton, Ismael Cruz Córdova and Leajato Amara Robinson in the Caldwell Theatre’s production of The Old Man and the Sea, running through March 28.
David Pendleton, Ismael Cruz Córdova and Leajato Amara Robinson in the Caldwell Theatre’s production of The Old Man and the Sea, running through March 28.  

For the last 14 years in Miami, a company called City Theatre has produced the Summer Shorts Festival which highlights a varying array of one-act works ranging in length from just a few minutes to perhaps a quarter of an hour.

The Caldwell Theatre's current production of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, a Play with Music, might have been a perfect candidate for the Summer Shorts program once adapters Eric Ting and Craig Siebels realized that enough of a story line just doesn't exist to justify the current eighty minute long saga playing in Boca Raton.

Ernest Hemingway's timely story centers on old man Santiago's (David Pendleton) plight in sailing out to sea from the Cuban coast for eighty-four days in a row with nary a fish catch to justify his arduous efforts.

Young boy Manolin (Ismael Cruz Cordova) sails with the old man on his first forty fishing excursions, but is finally denied a continuance to do so by his parents, who begin to view the voyages as nonsensical after so much unrewarded time spent.

On the eighty-fifth day, the old man decides to venture out just that much farther from shore when he finally hooks "the big one".

After a three day struggle, the old man secures the big fish carcass to the side of his small boat and heads back to shore. Unfortunately, the dead fish attracts the attention of many a shark, and only a bare skeleton remains by the time the old man returns to port. End of story.

Ting and Siebel's attempt to stretch the simple story into a two-act theatrical evening proves unsuccessful.

Caribbean styled background music by John Gromada and played live on guitar by actor Leajato Amara Robinson (coined as Cienfuegos in the program) offers a gentle reminder of setting, but does little to move the story along its elongated course.

The largest production snafu unfortunately surrounds director Clive Cholerton's casting of Pendleton in the pivotal role of the old man. Pendleton, who neither looks nor sounds Cuban, simply renders an uninteresting performance. His manner of line delivery often becomes redundant, and remains mostly ineffectual.

Thankfully, most of Act II belongs to Cordova, who repeats the same short Hemingway tale, only from the boy's point of view. The story itself never alters. The differential in acting, however, thankfully spans a sea's width.

Robinson, who most recently appeared in the highly acclaimed production of Vices: A Love Story earlier in Caldwell's season, exudes energy with his lyrical voice and passionate guitar playing, but neither Cordova nor Robinson can solely, or cooperatively, save this sinking adaptation.

Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, a Play with Music continues through March 28th at the Caldwell Theatre Company, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, FL 33487. For more information, please visit the www.caldwelltheatre.com website.

Michael Martin has been an active member of Actors’ Equity for over 20 years. As a professional actor, he has toured many parts of the US and the world. Originally from St. Louis, he now resides in Miami.


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