by Michael Chaplin, with contributions from Sid Chaplin, Tom Hadaway, Alan Plater, Julia Darling.
Live Theatre Broad Chare Quayside NE1 3DQ To 20 July 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu, Sat 2pm.
Audio-described 17 July (+Touch Tour 6.15pm).
Captioned 20 July 2pm.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.
TICKETS: 0191 232 1232.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 12 July.
Lives in the flow of drama.
“Sullen, untamed and intractable” is how T S Eliot, who admitted to being no expert, described the godlike power of a river; something remaining forever “implacable”. And the Tyne, according to author Michel Chaplin (who does know about such things, as Port of Tyne writer-in-residence), could, suitably diverted, fill the Royal Albert Hall in under a minute.
So filling Live Theatre could be a matter of nanoseconds – and it’s closer to hand, just off the Quayside. It’s where Chaplin’s play starts, before noting sounds that might still be heard under the shop across the road, then takes a magical journey along the river and round the city, aided by Phillip Shotton’s film, and given human significance by the presence of brother and sister Kate and Mark.
Why they are there finally becomes clear, but having their dead father as guide opens-up possibilities for memories and impressions, which reveal how the river has conditioned the people who live and work around it.
In 1969’s ‘Black River, Michael Chaplin’s father, Sid, one of several authors called-upon in Tyne, speaks of the river’s influence running beneath people’s lives, while Tom Hadaway’s story of a collective humanitarian impulse to save a stranded porpoise links the people’s character with its guiding waterway.
An extract from Alan Plater’s Sid Chaplin adaptation seems isolated in its quirkiness, though it demonstrates how one person can live different lives. Best of all is the late, too-early-departed poet and novelist Julia Darling’s account of two women who stayed on post-war in the shipyards.
‘The Women Who Painted Ships’ is presented as the subjects’ responses to an interviewer about their lives. Played with spirited realism by Jane Holman and Zoe Lambert, Darling’s scene evokes the individuality of its characters, their unassuming resilience and a sense of the extraordinary within the ordinary.
There’s not a false note in this moving evocation of the Tyne and its Tynesiders. Gary McCann’s set and Drummond Orr’s lighting combine to create variety and atmosphere in a limited space, while Max Roberts’ direction shows, as always, complete understanding of the dramatic possibilities in this unique performance space.
Kate: Victoria Elliott.
Mark: Paul Dodds.
Ralph: George Irving.
Ensemble: Zoe Lambert, Jane Holman, Assad Zaman, Phil Corbitt.
Director: Max Roberts.
Designer: Gary McCann.
Lighting: Drummond Orr.
Sound: Martin Hodgson.
Musical Director: Kathryn Tickell.
Film: Phillip Shotton.
AV Design: Paul Aziz.