Review: The Spring Tide, Old Red Lion ✭✭

The Spring Tide, by Carol Vine, premiers at the Old Red Lion this September. Directed by Graham Hubbard, it tells the story of Suzy and Lan, school friends who go on to become lovers, their subsequent separation and, some years later, their painful reunion. The play shifts between the Suzy and Lan that were, depicting a hopeful but troubled youth, and the Suzy and Lan of the present – middle aged, with successful careers and, in Suzy’s case, a family.

This tragic love story is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, with the modern twist of a love that is shared between two women. Whilst the ending might be predictable, the interactions between young Suzy and Lan, and the middle-aged pair, are anything but. Moreover, the casting is interesting – young Suzy (Lorena Vila) and present-day Suzy (Melanie Ramsay) bear a striking resemblance, and young Lan (Nellie McQuinn) and her present-day version (Anita Parry), despite a difference of accents – young Lan is very Irish and the older Lan is, inexplicably, Yorkshire – also look uncannily similar.

The fly in the ointment however, despite the rigour and enthusiasm of the cast, is the frequent descent into shouty, sweary, fist-shaking action. The many revelations, explanations, and betrayals lack sophistication in their execution, rendering some characters as mere caricatures – or just plain unbelievable. The script can at times be clunky, or attempt to be clever, which is perfectly acceptable if the aim is not subvert realism. In this instance, however, The Spring Tide appears to be trying to create a more or less realistic scenario, and thus the script occasionally jars.

There are some lovely moments in The Spring Tide, however, matched by some easy banter between cast and some chilling music. The set, designed by Jenny Gamble, is simple, making use of 5 large, quite random Kenya Tea boxes – perhaps as a nod to the coastal, cargo element of the play, or simply for ease.

This is the overriding feeling emanating from this production – it appears that both cast and director opt for ease and efficiency; what you see is what you get. This is a shame, because with a little digging, the characters could become a little more three-dimensional.

** (2 stars)
Runs until 21st September 2013
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