Presented by Joanne Hartstone in association with Patch of Blue & Greenwich Theatre
Reviewed 22 February 2017
We Live by the Sea sold out all shows in the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe and was nominated for a Fringe First award. It had a successful season in London and on moving to New York was chosen by New York Times as one of the Top Memorable Theatre Moments of 2016. I hope that Adelaide Fringe audiences embrace it just as heartily as it is a fantastic production.
Developed in conjunction with the National Autistic Society (UK) and directed by Alex Howarth, the play revolves around 15 year old Katy, an autistic teenager, her imaginary dog Paul Williams, her sister Hannah and the new kid in town Ryan. Alex Brain gives a stellar performance as Katy, taking the audience along with her as she moves rapidly from laughter through sadness, frustration, anger and at times back to laughter. Lizzie Grace is an enthusiastic companion for Katy as the dog, Paul Williams, and provides insights into Katy’s ways of thinking, reminding her, and us, of what her father told her to do when being bullied or when it all gets too much.
We witness episodes of sensory overload – when Katy is subjected to music, loud speech and flashing lights and then on a car journey, which Katy does not enjoy, when Hannah inadvertently tells a lie regarding their direction. While Hannah, a wonderful characterisation by Alex Simonet, struggles to look after her sister, she focusses on all the positives of Katy’s life – not the difficulties and does not bemoan her fate as sole carer now their father is dead.
Tom Coliandris plays Ryan who has only recently moved to the town. Coliandris’ splendid portrayal shows us the vulnerability of Ryan who has clearly brought some emotional baggage with him, and as much as Katy, he too is in need of friends. Although at first he thinks Katy somewhat odd, as she doesn’t like to be touched and wants to tap his shoes, he comes to realise her startling honesty, in that she takes everything literally, can cut through the emotional walls we all build around ourselves.
Clever use of lighting effects, such as a torch through a bottle of water to symbolise the ‘Great Wave’ of Katy’s imagination, combined with soaring live music and projections all combine to heighten the audience’s senses of being at the beach with the wave about to crash over us. I was moved to tears by this performance and cannot recommend it too highly.
Reviewed by: Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: The Black Forest at Royal Croquet Club
Season: 22-26 Feb, 28 Feb-5Mar, 7- 19 Mar
Duration: 70 mins
Tickets: Full Price$26.00