‘When the Sea Swallows Us Whole’ is a funny, coming of age, queer love story set in a sea side town that is falling into the sea.
Mila (Charlotte O’Leary) and Doll (Jack Archer) are childhood friends, with clear plans for a future together, including a dream home that is weeks away from slipping off a crumbling cliff edge. Doll is haunted by sightings of a wild puma, but Mila thinks he is imagining things. The town itself seethes with gossip and guilt, as every little perceived human transgression is blamed for the destruction of the town, as entire houses fall from the cliffs. In comes city girl Posy (Jacoba Williams), unencumbered by the superstitions of the town. She has all the answers, the real ones, science and stuff. She is there to persuade her grandmother to leave her home, even as it teeters on the brink of destruction.
Natasha Collie’s new play has all the hallmarks of a tale of first love, as our young teenagers Mila and Posy find themselves drawn to each other, leaving poor Doll out in the cold. However, with tantalising hints of dystopia and fantasy, ‘When the Sea Swallows Us Whole’ also surprises and unnerves. While this is a moving and funny story of love and friendship, it also shines a light on the darkness and corruption caused by a culture of shame and superstition. In a world that is out of control, the adults are looking for things and people to blame, will our young protagonists escape a way of thinking that belongs in the dark ages? There is menace and violence, lost mothers, angry fathers and a demolition militia that don’t seem to actually demolish anything. This is story feels as if it sits slightly out of time, in a far too close and familiar future where the wreckage salvaged cherry cokes are slightly out of date. Or maybe this is a reflection of the geographical isolation of the place, the normal rules don’t apply.
Our cast of 3 give wonderful performances under the direction of Beth Kapila. A simple stage design is used to great effect, with evocative lighting elements beautifully bringing the sense of place to life. This is a compelling and enjoyable piece of theatre that deserves a future life and on-going evolution.
The remaining and final performance is tomorrow (9th Feb 2020) at 6pm. It is well worth checking out.