Oceana until 8 August (Booking through The Customs House)
There is something wonderful happening at Oceana.
WILDWORKS have transformed this Business Park site on Davy Bank, Wallsend, in to a raggle-taggle shanty town. It is here – in the not too distant future – that humanity have found themselves, washed up on an island with only the handful of possessions there were allowed to bring with them. Something happened. They had to pack, and quickly.
The residents are presided over by Queen of the Island, Kalypso (Agnieszka Blonska). She is at war with her sister Kassandra (Sue Hill) over the loss of her son, and in love with a Beached Sailor (Roger Delves-Broughton).
We are presided over by Hermes (Samuel Gardes), a charming, playful Immortal in winged silver trainers who guides us as Kalypso invites us to enjoy her entertainments.
Outdoor, promenade events are surely won or lost on their location and the elements. Oceana couldn’t be a better choice - framing the story perfectly, whether inside or out – and we were lucky enough to get the ideal night. Cold but clear, and with a half moon that seemed to know it was centre stage for the stirring finale.
An international cast perform alongside local collaborators and there is a palpable energy running through the whole evening. You are kept on your toes, never knowing where you will be led and what you will find when you get there.
Talented performers play live music throughout, and visually The Beautiful Journey is a real treat. Ever inventive there are some unforgettable moments, Kassandra’s ‘flying’ out to sea being a particular highlight.
The programme notes describe that everywhere the production goes, WILDWORKS would build and launch a small boat. In a show where memories of the past and hopes for the future are such a central theme, it is fitting that this site on the bank of the River Tyne, the coastline adjacent to Swan Hunters former shipyard, be one of its locations. With shipbuilding an integral part of the area, this authenticity bleeds in to the production and lends it a truthfulness and credibility.
Exciting, arresting and original, this is a theatrical experience that I highly recommend. But dress warm. And just hope it doesn’t rain, because as we are told at the start of our journey – strictly no umbrellas!