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With some patience, Sea Marks pays off in the end

'Sea Marks' welcomed a small house to its Sunday afternoon matinee, which was perhaps the only real disappointing part of the show.

The performers deserved more energy and enthusiasm than was provided.

A two-character play can be difficult to execute. This is doubly true for 'Sea Marks.' Patrick Wohlmut and Amanda Soden were given an immediate obstacle to overcome in the script - the exposition.

The foundation of 'Sea Marks' is based on nearly two years of correspondence. The meaty, emotional grit of the production cannot be uncovered until both characters have revealed something of their private and buried natures in their letters.

These things do take time.

Fortunately, the portion of the show driven by the postal service moves smoothly due to the stealthy direction of Trisha Pancio Armor.

In 'Sea Marks,' a humble fisherman named Colm (Wohlmut) falls in love with and pursues Timothea (Soden), a woman he met briefly at a wedding.

Flirtations and curiosity become too much to bear, and Timothea visits her poetic fisherman. A few swigs of strong whisky in the fresh ocean air later and their relationship begins to blossom.

It isn't until Colm leaves the coast to stay with Timothea in Liverpool that the characters begin to strip away layers of intention and motivation.

When she surprises Colm by publishing his letters in a book without his permission, the conflict elevates.

The set design, also done by Armor, is pleasant and inviting. She effectively creates two separate worlds on a split stage with washes of ocean blues in the forefront and a cozy apartment to the back.

Soden is explosive as Timothea. Her energy and focus push the audience through the play and keep the action rolling. In a few places her character stumbles upon more quiet and pensive moments. At these points, she harnesses her dynamism to reveal a genuine sensitivity and depth. Those moments show her versatility as a performer and are solid enough to make an audience wish there could be a few more.

Wohlmut also demonstrates poignantly honest tender moments that he keeps mostly veiled under the guise of a salty sea dog. When he talks about his inexperience with women, he performs a precarious balancing act between the rugged man and vulnerable artist with grace.

Gardner McKay's script seems to sag in a few places with a few unnecessary scenes that fail to develop plot or character. However, there are also plenty of insightful and comedic moments that shine with authentic charm.

'Sea Marks' doesn't feel like it's really getting started until halfway through the first act, but that doesn't mean the show is dull.

This love story takes place in the adult world, after all. It is fitting that a little patience pays off in a big way.

If you go

'Sea Marks' runs at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Mt. Hood Community College, 26000 S.E. Stark St. through Sunday, Aug. 20. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and

students. Call 503-491-5950.