The Customs House, South Shields
The latest play from North East playwrights, Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, is Amazing Grace, which tells the story of Grace Darling rescuing survivors of a shipwreck, off the Northumberland coast in 1838, or does it?
In this retelling of sorts, we have Grace Armstrong (Catherine Dryden) who has written a film script of the Grave Darling rescue and is determined to get it made. At home she helps her father look after the farm, but when the film producer Barry Charlton (played by Sean Wildey) picks Grace to play the heroine in the movie, the strain shows between father and daughter. It is left to Trevor Cuthbertson to inject most of the comedy as the father and salt-of-the-earth farmer Ted Armstrong, as well as true lovey and long forgotten actor Howard de Winter.
However, during the two-hour show it’s hard to balance the comedy against the serious nature of the shipwreck, especially as Grace Darling is a Northumberland heroine, with a museum in her honour.
The pacing and scene changes at times seem very awkward and this more down to Director, Emma Roxborough, who is directing her first full length professional play, rather than the writers and actors. The bare staging does not help matters but the video projections do move things along.
Overall this is an enjoyable story, but maybe with stronger direction it would have been a great one.