Critical Overview

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 531

Before Albee won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Seascape, many critics reacted negatively to the first production. Only a few had generally positive responses. One was Clive Barnes of the New York Times who writes, "What Mr. Albee has given us here is a play of great density, with many interesting emotional and intellectual reverberations." The Nation"s Harold Clurman places Seascape in a positive context in terms of Albee's development as a playwright. He believes, "It is his most relaxed play, a 'philosophical' whimsy. You may find it delightful.... It is a step in Albee's still green career, a step which, seen in a certain light, augurs well for the future. In an agreeable sense, it is a 'little' play."

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Other critics had a more mixed response to Seascape. While they found something to praise, other aspects brought the experience down for them. John Beaufort of the Christian Science Monitor writes, "As cerebral comedies go, Seascape is provocative and tantalizing rather than profound, and perhaps too whimsical for its own good." Edwin Wilson of the Wall Street Journal wants more from Albee. He argues, "The disappointing thing is that the playwright, having given himself a theatrical device with potential and the performers to make it work, has proceeded to squander his opportunities."

Many critics who wrote mixed reviews commented on Albee's use of language. This had been a positive point in many of Albee's previous plays, and critics were divided over its success in Seascape. Howard Kissel of Women"s Wear Daily believes, "Albee's lines have a pleasurable cadence, a naturally engaging rhythm even if they seldom grow out of character or intensify the admittedly diffuse drama." In his more negative review, Jack Kroll of Newsweek writes, "In Seascape that long-windedness has become a constipated language that moves in colonic spasms.... Albee achieves only the ultimate in pure nagging."

A number of critics could find little redeeming value to Seascape. Commenting on the use of the lizards, Stanley Kauffmann of the New Republic writes, "This is hardly a startlingly original idea for a...

(The entire section contains 531 words.)

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Critical Context


Essays and Criticism

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