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Sea Fret, Old Red Lion Theatre, review: ‘Spirited and authentic’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 April 2017

Sea Fret at the Old Red Lion Theatre. Picture Alex Fine

Sea Fret at the Old Red Lion Theatre. Picture Alex Fine

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Set on the Suffolk coast where she grew up, Tallulah Brown’s new play has universal as well as local connotations

Sea levels are rising, cliffs crumbling onto the beach below, houses are being destroyed and, to crown it all, the concrete pillboxes, built in 1940 to defend our shores from enemy invasion, are scheduled for demolition.

Ruby and Lucy used to play on that beach as children and now they and their friends rave there all night. Ruby’s father once earned his living as a fisherman. Lucy’s mother is organising a campaign to remedy the situation. United by their long-standing affection but divided by class, by experience, and by personality, the four characters in this sometimes funny, sometimes cynical, often hard-hitting play, are determined to save their environment, their history, from obliteration.

Set on the Suffolk coast where she grew up, Tallulah Brown’s new play has universal as well as local connotations. She has created four characters representing four viable contrasting attitudes. This can feel a bit formulaic, but the spirited and authentic dialogue maintains a pace and vitality that brings the characters alive and speeds the plot along.

Lucy Carless plays Ruby, a modern tragic heroine, with indomitable spirit and energy. Her attractive, fun-loving personality contrasts with the more conventional Lucy (Georgia Kerr). Lucy, torn between affection for her friend and her own self-preservation, reluctantly chooses the latter. Philippe Spall gives a moving performance as Ruby’s father, a caring and loving parent who has nevertheless been a largely negative example to his daughter.

Carla Kingham, directing, has concentrated on the relationships between the characters, achieving excellent, authentic a pace and timing. But the dominant personality: savage, uncontrollable, destructive, is the sea itself. This makes it a difficult play to stage, especially in an intimate space like the Old Red Lion.

Rating 3/5 stars

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