Palomar Professor Michael Mufson’s production of “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove” captured the essence of what it means to be human through the eyes of a tight-knit group of lesbians, performed by Palomar’s phenomenal cast on April 15.
This controversial performance was shocking and sweet with characters who were realistic and flawed yet lovable. They drink, smoke, swear, and make no apologies for doing so.
The set design was open and welcoming, placing the audience in the ocean as the front of the stage served as the beach. Above the shore was a raised, 1970s style East Coast beach home. The intimate setting of the makeshift, performing arts studio in O2, had audience members at the edge of their seats, laughing out loud and holding back tears. The main theater is under construction.
Written 30 years ago by Jane Chamber, “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove” sheds light on issues in the gay community that are still prevalent today, with themes about the human condition.
The universal truths of death, infidelity, sexuality, guilt, worthiness, loneliness, marriage, commitment, and ultimately love are recurring components of the story.
The play takes place in the 1970s at Bluefish Cove, a summer vacation haven for lesbians. Lil played by Hailee Byrd, is a strong and independent woman who enjoys being single and is a notorious casanova. She is struggling with her own mortality when it’s revealed that Lil is dying of cancer, and that this will be her last summer at the cove.
Lil is fishing on the beach when she is approached by Eva, played by Taylor Cohen, a straight woman who has just left her husband of 12 years and rented a cabin at the cove. She is completely unaware of the town’s reputation.
Lil invites Eva to her party where she is introduced to Lil’s group of friends, who happen to all be couples. Each of these women represent the different stages of a relationship from the early on honeymoon phase to an old, married couple. Each person plays a seminally traditional role within the relationship, with the only difference being that both partners are women, and face oppression by their families and society.
Once Eva learns that the residents of Bluefish Cove are lesbians she begins to question her own sexuality. She has never been independent and sees a strength in the other women that she wishes to possess, that causes the charming Lil takes her under her wing.
The material is raw and moving and the chemistry between all the women is undeniable and had the perfect balance between humor and intensity.
“Last Summer at Bluefish Cove” may push envelope but it was embraced by audiences who found the refreshingly real characters to be a breath of fresh air for the somewhat sensitive subject matter. Reminding us all that we share the fundamental need to love and be loved.