Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Gulf. It was written by Audrey Cefaly, and it was directed by Megan Carney. It was about Kendra (Kelli Simpkins) and Betty (Deanna Myers), a couple who had gone on a fishing trip together during a difficult part of their relationship. Some unforeseen circumstances arise and the couple starts bringing up old betrayals and arguments. It is about love, trust, and the difference between loving someone and being good for them. I think this is a very beautiful show, performed masterfully.
I thought that the dynamic between the two lovers was very interesting but heartbreaking to watch. They very clearly had a lot of love and attraction towards each other, but they didn't know how to express that in a way that wasn't fueled by passion, not just in the romantic sense but in the sense of anger. They had such tension between them at all times that it was hard to tell at first what it was motivated by. As the play went on you get to see the couple in many different testing situations and really get an understanding of what their go-to diffusing strategy is for the other person. I realized that they are both people who know how to get what they want and are very determined to get it, which causes a lot of quickly heated arguments. This was the main thing that showed me why this relationship was so dysfunctional. Both of these people went all-in with each other and are both forces to be reckoned with, which causes them to do things that completely ignore the other person's wellbeing. When there are two people in a relationship who think that they deserve everything the way they want it, it causes no one to get what they want. In the end this leaves unresolved arguments that seem to never die. I think this is why this boat trip seems to be such an uncontrolled disaster at times; it's because deep down they love each other and rely on each other, but that boat can't hold the weight of their egos which causes every unresolved argument to rise to the surface.
These women love each other very much and this is immensely clear through each of the actor's performances. Their performances also showed all the layers to the relationship that clouded the love. Both of these things were enhanced by the intimacy (directed by Gaby Labotka), which seemed very real and vulnerable in very specific ways. I think that something that this play and these actors attack really effectively is loving someone vs being good for someone. I think that one of the reasons that this play keeps this question lingering in the air for so long is because it leaves the biggest question unanswered and lets other immediately pressing matters guide the characters and the audience away from the thing the couple has been avoiding for years. When the playwright puts the audience in a similar-feeling place as the characters it lets the viewer understand how scary a question that is and how many things an answer could change. I think that what scares the couple the most is not having that constant (their relationship) in their life and if they are unhappy they find ways to make sure they can have their constant and also get what they aren't getting from their partner.
People who would like this show are people who like immersion, boats bringing out the best and worst in people, and beautiful broken things. I thought that this was an absolutely gorgeous show. The technical elements and emotion were spot on. It had very complex characters that exemplified how people show love in many different ways. I loved it.
Photos: Michael Brosilow