THE SPRING TIDE
by Carol Vine.
Old Red Lion Theatre 418 St John Street EC1V 4NJ To 21 September 2013.
Tue-Sat 7:30pm Mat Saturday & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Francis Grin 5 September.
Simple, honest and moving.
Carol Vine describes The Spring Tide as the play that has kept her "awake for more nights than any other." It’s a line which I don’t doubt at all, as it feels as though Vine has truly written her own guts into the scenes of this play. Although The Spring Tide is hardly seamless, with its lengthy running time and scenes that occasionally drag on, there’s an honesty in the writing that makes the play exceptionally moving.
The Spring Tide is a love story between Suzy and Lan. The story moves from the past to the present, exploring the relationship’s breakdown as the women grow older. The standout element in this production are the characters, brought to life by an outstanding cast. These are some of the most realistic characters I’ve seen on stage in awhile – the kind that you can hate and love at the same time.
Most notable is Anita Parry’s Lan, a woman toughened through her experiences, who now looks at life as though it’s a flopped comedy. Parry plays Lan with an admirable hardness and humour, one which she powerfully breaks out of as she begs Suzy to come back to her. Also notable is Pierro Niel Mee’s wonderfully banal portrayal of Suzy’s son Alan, an embittered teenager who likes to casually pull-out a switch blade mid-conversation. Mee adds a refreshing sense of dark humour and playfulness to this production, balancing some of the heavier moments.
Director Graham Hubbard skilfully opts for a minimalist production, one which highlights the play and its characters. Designer Jenny Gamble’s set is clean and simple, mainly consisting of a backdrop painted as a shoreline, the couple’s favourite location. On a closer look, the shoreline is imprinted with photos of Lan and Suzie, a reminder of what these two people are trying to get back to.
While the play is not exactly flawless, it takes risks in its honesty and rawness – even if these are in the form of a simple love story. Vine is a skillful writer from whom I’m certain we will continue to hear.
Suzy: Melanie Ramsey.
Young Lan: Nellie McQuinn.
Young Suzy: Lorena Vila.
Tim: Matthew Ashforde.
Lan: Anita Parry.
Lewis: Pierro Niel Mee.
Alan: Sam Dunham.
Director: Graham Hubbard.
Designer: Jenny Gamble.
Lighting: Scott Pryce-Jones.
Sound: Harry Barker.