UP OUT O' THE SEA: Glen's Theatre Blog
Those living along the east coast often have a love/hate relationship with the North Sea.
On one hand it provides a vital source of income, traditionally through fishing but, nowadays, increasingly through tourism. On the other, for every calm there is a storm just around the corner that can easily claim lives.
This complex relationship between costal communities and the sea forms the backdrop for Andrew Holland's Up Out O' The Sea, Eastern Angles' latest touring production.
Thirty years ago the coastal community was rocked by the loss of several local volunteer lifeboat crew members when their attempt to rescue a stricken Danish freighter ended in tragedy. Over the years the coastline may have eroded but the ghosts of that tragedy still haunt the surviors. Secrets of what actually happened that stormy night still lay buried deep and the locals are reluctant to discuss the subject, a hindrance to journalist Carrie who has been drawn to the town to research the tragedy for a book. There is more than first meets the eye here and more than one secret lies buried and not all out at sea. As a salvage team attempt to raise the wreck, more than rusting iron is exposed.
Local fishermen Dolphie won't talk about events that happened, despite the pressure from his young assistant, Tweedy. Tweedy himself is battling conflicting thoughts of trying to come to terms with his past while wishing he could follow his dreams as an artist instead of a struggling fisherman. There's also a conflict with local librarian Mrs Jope who perhaps knows more than she is letting on.
Eastern Angles works best when it tackles local subjects and here there is a strong sense of local community. Holland's script picks up the natural rhythm of the Suffolk coastal dialect and the dry, often dark humour that prevails.
The piece is wonderfully detailed and builds the tension and atmosphere slowly. A series of flashback scenes help us slowly unravel many of the unexplained mysteries that shaped the tragedy 30 years ago. As the locals learn to exorcise some of the ghosts of the past they begin to realise that there is more than just the locality that binds them together.
This sense of community is well portrayed by the company, initial wary of the outsider among them but also wary of each others involvement in the events of the past.
There are strong performances from the whole company. Mike Aherne's salt in the blood fisherman balances well with Francis Woolf's green round the gills Tweedy. Also working well is the relationship between newcomer Carrie (an emotionally powerful performance from Laura Harding) and librarian Mrs Jope (a detailed and complex rendition from Lisa Tramontin). Completing the company, Lisa-Marie Hoctor's duel roles as Milly and Emily provide catalyst for change in the two differing eras.
There are some sections of the piece that perhaps need more exploration. For example we never fully understand why young Tweedy has turned to alcohol or the reason why Emily leaves for Skegness for several months. Overall, though, Up Out O' The Sea is a strong outing by Eastern Angles, full of comedy but also with a surprisingly moving climax. Those who live or work beside the power of the sea will find much to resonate in this finely observed play.
UP OUT O' THE SEA: The Stage
Carrie, a young writer, is sniffing around a fishing village, asking questions about a lifeboat disaster 30 years ago. Meanwhile, just off the coast, a shipwreck is about to be raised from the depths and, with it, some long-buried secrets from the lives of Mrs Jope the librarian and fisherman Dolphie.
After a choppy beginning that strives too hard for comic effect, Andrew Holland's new play gradually finds its sea legs and by the second act settles into a satisfying voyage to a moving emotional destination thanks to a seaworthy ensemble performance by its five-strong crew of actors and a steady hand on the helm from Eastern Angles' founding director Ivan Cutting.
Effective use of Ian Teague's simple but colourful set, accompanied by good acting to evoke the windy outdoor scenes, takes us fluidly from beachside fisherman's hut to library to rugged cliff top, while Lisa-Marie Hoctor's periodic appearances as a long-dead girl (perhaps a ghost or maybe just a memory) proves a compelling way of bringing the past alive in front of our eyes while Mrs Jope (Lisa Tramontin) tells her tragic story.
The script would benefit from trimming some unnecessary story threads while further exploring others. Some important plot moments should be more boldly flagged up. But, over all, the piece has a winning warmth. The confident, naturalistic stage presence of Mike Aherne (Dolphie) and Laura Harding (Carrie) gives the production some ballast and helps steer the proceedings well clear of the rocks.
UP OUT O' THE SEA: Eastern Daily Press
Writer Andrew Holland's title of this production gives little clue to the tense emotional drama you are about to witness as you settle into your seat at the Seagull. With a cast of five, minimal but evocative set and a superb script, the audience are quickly transported to a small town on the Suffolk coast still coming to terms with the double tragedy 20 odd years before of the sinking of a ship and the loss of the town's lifeboat and crew.
What is it that leads Carrie (Laura Harding), a Londoner, to the town and who is Emily (Lisa-Marie Hoctor) and the mystery of her death in the same storm that sank the lifeboat?
An excellent cast bring out the pathos and humour of a community united in loss - Mike Aherne is excellent as Dolphie the only survivor of the lifeboat crew battling the demons of survivors guilt and a deeper guilt that only becomes apparent as Carrie digs deeper into the story of the storm that sank the Grath Hede and the town's lifeboat before laying her own past to rest.
This first performance of Up Out ‘O The Sea got the 2011 Eastern Angles tour off to a cracking start, the performance subtly drawing the audience into the action until you could have heard pin drop so great was our concentration following the twists and turns of the characters' lives. This is live theatre at its best - television is dull in comparison.
UP OUT O' THE SEA: The Public Reviews
Off the lonely Suffolk coast, eroded by the relentless waves, a wreck has lain for thirty years. Now it is to be brought to the surface, just as a prickly journalist from London turns up in the the tight-knit local community, with her laptop and her searching questions.
That's the starting point for Andrew Holland's Up Out o' the Sea, an atmospheric piece dealing with those Eastern Angles stock-in-trade themes of origins, ghosts and time-slips.
A simple, weathered set sits across the Town Hall in Maldon, replicating the John Mills Theatre back in Ipswich. "Fresh Fish For Sale - Special Offer Herring £1.50 lb" at one end, with a suggestion of the mooring and the remote Point. At the other, the village library.
The company of five bring some pretty complex characters to life, as their stories unfold and intertwine. Rough-edged chancer Tweedie, looking for love and a way out of the dead-end, was played by Francis Woolf, who caught precisely the mixture of bravado and vulnerability. His colleague, Dolphie, the only survivor of the volunteer crew that attempted the rescue on that fatal night, was Mike Aherne, who managed to make the grumpy old fishermen both believable and sympathetic.
Lisa-Marie Hoctor played two linked characters, both immature, both young mothers; sometimes hard to grasp all her words in this less than ideal acoustic, but I loved her Emily, the mysterious girl with a touch of the devil, who dreams of passing through into glory ...Laura Harding was brilliantly convincing as the writer with secrets of her own - the picnic at the Point was movingly done, as was the "information versus emotion" dialogue with Lisa-Marie's modern Milly.And Lisa Tramontin played the Librarian, by no means a stock character, despite her stereotype hair and cardigan. Though not all of the dialogue she was given rang true, she did provide some of the most touching moments in a play of many layers and textures. Including the key revelation, a real goosebumps realisation.
Music was powerfully used - a Bach Passion mainly - and simple but effective lighting suggested the sunshine and the showers, the night and the storm. The setting was practical and versatile - I admired the imagination that turned a door with oilskins hanging from hooks into a stretcher for the victims of the storm.
In the end, after a rescue which echoes the earlier disaster, they decide to leave the wreck where it lies - a memorial draws a line under a past event whose details are gradually revealed in this intriguing piece, directed, with his usual sure touch for the intangible, by Eastern Angles' Artistic Director Ivan Cutting.
UP OUT O' THE SEA: Ipswich24
Up Out O' The Sea is the latest offering by Eastern Angles. It tells the story of journalist Carrie, as she visits a sleepy Suffolk coastal town to research a 30-year-old lifeboat tragedy for a book she is writing.
As Carrie gets to know the locals, she soon finds out that there is more to the tragedy than meets the eye. Secrets, lost lives and loves are all dredged to the surface along with debris from the bottom of the sea. Carrie soon discovers she has more in common with the people of the coastal town than she first thought, as they relive the tragedy and discover what really happened on that stormy night in the 1970s.
Up Out O' The Sea is another great production by Eastern Angles. The small cast tell the story beautifully and all the characters are truly believable.
Laura Harding, brings much to her performance as Carrie, from a confident Londoner, investigating what happened all those years before, to showing a really vulnerable side to her character as Carrie discovers what really happened and how it relates to her own past.
Saltly Sea Dog Dolphie is a true Suffolk Coastal fisherman, with secrets of his own. Mike Aherne's wonderful performance draws you in to the emotions of the old man who lived through the tragedy and has been haunted by the memories.
Some light-hearted even comic moments come in the form of Tweedy. Francis Woolf plays the part of the young fisherman beautifully, as the aspiring artist tries to find love and a life away from the sea.
Mrs Jope, the librarian, holds all the secrets to that night, when the names were drawn and the lifeboat men went to sea. Lisa Tramontin's powerful performance really moves you as she tells her story to Carrie, with some emotional scenes both in the past and the present.
A special mention goes to Lisa-Marie Hoctor, who plays both Emily in the past and Milly in the present, a fantastic performance that easily takes the audience from present day, to the 70s and back again. No easy task in a small company.
The strong cast tells Andrew Holland's story well, with many twist and turns along the way. Up Out O' The Sea will make you laugh and it will make you cry as it moves to it's somewhat surprising climax as the secrets of the past come to light.