This is a concentrated
piece of theatre from the Colchester-based Real Circumstance company.
It begins with a complex fusion of mime, sound and lighting as we
watch a man being overwhelmed by a storm at sea. What follows in Dan
Shearer's play might be the flashback which received wisdom says
comes to those who drown. The man is called Tom Elfman.
Years ago he had a girl
friend. Perhaps not quite a girl-friend in the full sense of the
word; more someone who was a friend as well as being a girl. Her name
was Grace, and she went away. Onto the quayside now comes her
daughter, Cleo Sparks. For Tom the two young women meld into one
personality. Cleo lives up to her surname. She has already also
attracted the attention of an older man, John Broughton.
Shearer has directed
his own script, not always the wisest course. He makes his excellent
cast – especially Tamsin Joanna Kennard as Cleo – speak very
quickly and with a strong local accent which is not always easy to
follow – even for long-time Essex dwellers like myself. Jot
Davies brings out the slightly fey quality of Tom and David
Tarkenter exudes the right sort of measured menace as former
Cotterill (set), Michael Nabarro (lighting) and Steve Mayo
(sound) use a judicious mix of the realistic and the symbolic to set
the scene for us. In one way, the whole thing has echoes of
Crabbe's narrative poem The Borough. Living on
the edge of the land can do strange things to people. The sea so
often takes more than its fair share of people's chance of any
sort of tomorrow.