Grace and the Sea, Sweet Grassmarket, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Gaynor La Rocca (director), Rob Brannen (writer), Martin Gratton (music/sond director), Ian Watret (lighting), Jim Sharp (set), Aimee Sweeney and Taran Harris (singing coaches).
Carl James Fowler, Carmel Skelly, Chris Douglas, Craig Sharkey, Dave Unsworth, Francesco la Rocca, Jim Welsh, Kirsty Taylor, Mike Mackenzie, Nicky Loftus, Pat Hart, Nathan Bates, Peter Bromilow, Rachel Reason, Rita Sharp, Robyn la Rocca, Steve Dalgleish, Vera Farrell, and members of Halewood Community Choir.
Running time

Turned out nice again. The perfect day for a visit to Crosby and Formby beaches.

This is a wild place, a landscape of contradictions played with idly between the thumbs of nature and time, but today it’s a bustle of picnickers, dog walkers, kite fliers, joggers, photographers - everyone and their dog.

The only stillness is in the figures of Sir Anthony Gormley’s standing cast iron men, staring out to sea, reflecting the loss, hopes, leavings and findings of the visitors. Each of the people has a story, just as the landscape has its own and while they are drawn here to get away from it all, there is sometimes no escape.

An extended family picnic settles into deckchairs. There’s Tommy about to go off to America to pursue an art degree, his widowed mother Jill who doesn’t get him, Grandma and her “boyfriend”, Auntie Sandra who is an aunt to everyone, neighbour Bill trying to be the perfect dad to Holly who finds everything lame.

Bits of their stories, loves, pasts and desires will wash back and forward like the tide around “Gormley’s Gazers”. Cutting through this are lifeguards and joggers, a childless couple and their surrogate dog, a young couple expecting a baby, an elderly neighbour and an ever present guardian. They will draw lines in the sand and get stuck in the mud.

And underlying it all is the place and its history revealed in thousands of years old footprints in the sand and the tale of the world’s first lifeboat.

The spawling seascape scenery is a backdrop to a variety of theatrical styles, from realism, where the audience almost feel that they are eves dropping, to song, physical theatre and film. Accompanied by live folksy/sea shanty music the large cast put in spirited, unselfconscious performances.

Where it works it succeeds in evoking a sense of place and is joyous, uplifting and sometimes moving. It is however a huge undertaking and there is a lot in it. The company is a long established community theatre and the piece has been work-shopped with parts specifically written for each cast member.

The result is very much in the ethos of the company, but for a Fringe or touring production it could benefit from a bit of sifting; beachcombing for the parts that work theatrically rather than for the inclusion of oral history and community engagement.

Show Times: 4 - 9 August 2014 at 3pm.

Ticket Prices: £10 (£6.50)