EFR - Reviews of Low Tide in Glass Bay

Low Tide in Glass Bay

Thu 31st July – Sun 24th August 2014

reviews

Matthew Lavender

at 15:03 on 18th Aug 2014

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Despite being far from perfect, Low Tide in Glass Bay is a heart-warmingly sweet production that stirs the audience’s emotions with its themes of loss, love, friendship and togetherness.

Set in the small Welsh town of Tonypandy, lesbian couple Karen and Bronnie, accustomed to a carefree life of freedom and alcohol, are forced to face reality when they have to assume responsibility for Karen’s innocent teenage niece, Robwyn, after the death of Karen’s sister. The hour-long piece tracks the three in their interactions with friends and neighbours.

The show, penned by Eliot Salt and Artemis Howard, who also star as Bronnie and Karen, is very cleverly written. The plot is pleasantly simple, with a generally light-hearted tone occasionally interrupted with emotional moments of grave seriousness. These are always well-timed and never too lengthy, allowing the story to retain its comedy status. Some moments involving Robwyn and her friend Kerry are particularly funny, and rightly extract genuine hilarity from the audience, for which the writers deserve much credit.

The show is partly let down by the delivery of some potentially hilarious lines, particularly in the opening stages by Salt and Howard. The lines are very witty but are often rushed, with an insufficient pause prior to the delivery of the line, and this undermines what could otherwise be a very comical moment.

In addition to this, Karen and Bronnie at times come across as excessively confrontational, insulting other characters with an unnecessary degree of hostility. They are, of course, feisty characters, but they sometimes go too far and you end up feeling sympathy for their unsuspecting victim.

On a more positive note, special praise must go to Robyn Wilson for her exceptional portrayal of Robwyn. From the very outset, she is incredibly convincing as an innocent, naïve but very sweet young girl, and she maintains this throughout, creating a character that is relatable, realistic and well-deserving of the audiences’ affections. She is at her very best when Robwyn comes into contact with Kerry’s brother, George, for whom she has feelings. In these instances her depiction of Robwyn is exquisite, and allowing you to relate to her feelings of awkwardness and longing.

On the whole, the production could benefit from a slightly slicker delivery of lines, but it is, nonetheless, a thoroughly entertaining watch which brightens your spirits and warms your heart.

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Alex Woolley

at 10:40 on 19th Aug 2014

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Low Tide in Glass Bay is a rather poetic title for what is essentially a contemporary kitchen sink drama. But instead of angry young men we are presented with the dysfunctional family life of two slightly immature Welsh lesbians and their niece. Friends and schoolmates also make it into the mix. Characterised by easy-going humour and heavy-handed attempts to introduce background information, Low Tide in Glass Bay is an endearing, if insufficiently polished new comedy from Deadpan Theatre, a student company based in Bristol.

Pleasingly, no particular mention is made of the fact that Karen (played by Eliot Salt) and Bronnie (played by Artemis Howard) are lesbians. It is simply how things are, and there is no particular angst attached to this state of affairs. Karen’s ability to help out with the boy-troubles of her niece, Robwyn (played by Robyn Wilson), is barely compromised, too – Karen makes a mocking reference to her lack of knowledge of men, but it does not seem, in a practical sense, to hinder her ability to help out Robwyn.

So instead of being a play about the trials and tribulations of lesbians, Low Tide in Glass Bay is more interested in the comedy of everyday life in a dysfunctional family unit. There is an element of tragedy, too, in how this family unit is formed. But this is not explored in great depth, and we quickly pass from these short scenes into an extended party scene, which forms the climax of the show.

The acting is all of a suitable standard for student theatre. The town where the play is set, Tonypandy, is advertised as being small, but it is clearly not imagined as being so small that every actor has to sound Welsh – it is good that Welsh accents have presumably been restricted to those actors that can do them reasonably convincingly. Howard and Salt are particularly competent actresses, managing to get across the tenderness and boisterousness of their characters’ relationship. There is a slight lack of physical intimacy between the two, but this does not seem totally unrealistic for a couple of fifteen years.

Where the production most notably falls down is in the quality of the script. Although Howard and Salt do a very good job of producing an atmosphere that is warm and realistic, they too often revert to methods of filling in back-stories that come over as insufficiently motivated for the scenes in which the comments are found. It seems particularly clumsy when Karen and Bronnie reminisce about meeting for the first time in their very first scene – the connection is that they discussed cats when they first met and are discussing cats as the scene opens. As Bronnie herself implies, it is a rather implausible first conversation. The play is littered with similar instances of clumsy exposition.

Low Tide in Glass Bay is a solidly competent play for a company to make their Edinburgh Fringe debut with. It is enjoyable and endearing – it is just a shame that the writing veers towards occasional clumsiness.

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