City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Sealand Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 10 August 2012

Sealand: A scene
Show details
The Alchemist Theatre Company
Running time: 
Luke Clarke (writer/director), Charlie Robb (designer), Tim Boyd (lighting designer), Anthony Stephen Springall (producer).
Dan Ainsworth (Ted), Jess Stone (Sarah), Ed Pinker (Alex), Seamus Bradford (Gary), Janet Etuk (Liz).

Summer holidays – long days by the sea, dad tinkering with the boat, mum painting, teenage son fishing, and daughter bored. All worries left behind. That would be the ideal, but this is no holiday and some problems refuse to be so easily cast off.

It’s no conventional beach resort either but rather a former Second World War fort towering out of the North Sea, now the self-declared independent sovereign state of Sealand. Or at least that’s the somewhat fanatical vision of Ted, who seeks to provide a refuge from what he views as a dying England, wracked by riots, failed by greedy banks and a beleaguered Health Service.

Neither is it a game of happy families as the nuclear household is not what it first appears and while Ted and his son Alex are devoted to their fledgling utopia, the remainder are less idealistic.

Behind the scenes is Gary, who has predicaments of his own and a troubled relationship with wife Liz and daughter Sarah. As the micro-nation seeks recognition from the outside world, so do the more self-absorbed of the characters crave attention.

The word Utopia was coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516 as the name given to an island. Regarded by most observers as a criticism on society, the book describes a republic that has no lawyers and simple rules of what’s right and wrong. It also translates as Noplace. The new society of Sealand has some decisions to make if it’s to prove the existence of a perfect nation.

The adolescent issues and the coming-of-age plot (not only for the teenagers but for the island state) are not unique in themselves and wouldn’t stand up in a domestic setting, but the isolated location adds another dimension. The writing is witty and naturalistic and there are some incredibly good performances, particularly by Jess Stone as Sarah; who probably gets handed the best lines.

The company is appositely named, as this production does something alchemical in turning its base elements into a finer piece of theatre.

Show Times: Runs to 27 August 2012; 5.15pm.

Ticket Prices: £9 (£8)