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Into the Blue

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Beverley Hancock's new play is a touching and emotive tale of a mother’s inability to cope with caring for her daughter who has Down’s syndrome.

Staged in the Arcola's tiny Theatre 2, the setting is intimate and somewhat uncomfortable. Yet the intimacy is appropriate if not voyeuristic, as we delve into the fractured relationship of mother and daughter Marion and Rosie.

One might expect the story to be reasonably hard-hitting and gritty given the subject matter, but instead of a harrowing tale of suicide and abandonment, it's a surprising story of a familial bond drifting apart due to enforced separation and lies.

The play begins with a cold and awkward reunion as Rosie returns from the care home in which she lives. The nervous motherly over-attentiveness of Marion is familiar, and we're drawn into the domestic scene so much so that it could be one’s own home.

The beach is a constant motif throughout the play, represented by a pile of smooth grey pebbles and calming background sounds. The beach as a remote setting is an important aspect of the play - a place where the characters’ lives changed forever, but also a place where a lot of secrets are confronted. Despite the basic staging within the limits of space, the set is appropriate and well used in Deborah Paige's neat production.

At less than an hour long, Into the Blue is an enjoyable and thought-provoking play that, with a bit more polish, could be something very special indeed.

- Becky Middleton


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