We Live by the Sea

We Live by the Sea is a feel-good tale, exploring the day-to-day life of an autistic teenager in Filey. With strong performances, excellent live music and ambitious direction, there is a lot to like about this production. However, its derivative aspects prevent the show from becoming truly great.

Having taught a number of autistic teenagers in my time as a secondary school teacher, I found Brain's performance sympathetic, truthful and moving

Praise should be given to Alex Brain for her sensitive portrayal of the protagonist, Katie. Having taught a number of autistic teenagers in my time as a secondary school teacher, I found Brain's performance sympathetic, truthful and moving. The positive audience reaction was no doubt due to her superb performance.

Additionally, the live musical accompaniment is fantastic. An impressive range of instruments, from mandolins to synthesisers, add greatly to the emotional impact of the show. Whether it is the ominous tapping of drumsticks to build tension, or the celebratory anthem playing as Katie and Ryan dance the night away, the music does a wonderful job of setting the mood.

However, despite these impressive features, We Live by the Sea is hindered by its over-reliance on previous theatrical productions: namely, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The similarities don't stop at the fact both shows have autistic protagonists. The way direct address is used continually to forward the narrative, the way props lay onstage in plain sight of the audience, or the numerous gags relying on the fact autistic people can sometimes struggle to understand metaphors are just a few examples illustrating the extent to which We Live by the Sea is heavily indebted to its predecessor. To use an idiom – at the risk of baffling Katie and Christopher Boone – I wished the show had made greater efforts to 'stand on its own two feet'.

I'll reiterate, however, their evident popularity with the punters. Patch of Blue is certainly a theatre company with huge potential; if they manage to craft a more original style of proceedings, they’ll be well placed for their New York transfer.  

Reviews by Alan Stewart

Assembly George Square Studios

Save + Quit

★★★★
Paradise in The Vault

Howie the Rookie

★★★
Spotlites

Chinese Women’s Whispers

★★★
Bedlam Theatre

Stack

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

We Live by the Sea

★★★
Zoo Southside

Luna Park

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

When Ryan moves from the city to Katie's coastal town, they make a connection that will shake their worlds forever. Playful visual storytelling with a live electronic score about autism, friendship and a very big wave. 'Something special' ***** (WestEndFrame.com). Patch of Blue are an award-winning company from the South of England, making fresh, exciting and touching devised theatre for festivals and touring. Their folk-play Back to Blackbrick transferred to the Arts Theatre, West End in 2015, and will tour the UK in Autumn 2016. They are an associate company of Greenwich Theatre.