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.