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  • Caterina Lombardo

Review - To the Ocean

Greenhouse Theatre @ Canary Wharf

Playing until 14th July 2023



Writer, Director and Composer

Oli Savage


Producer

Rachel Routledge


Designer

Charlotte Murray


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In a midsummer atmosphere, To the Ocean follows the story of Grace (Laura Kent), a teenager searching for her roots. Raised by only her father, Grace feels the need to discover where she came from when she turns 16. This takes her to an adventure in which she finds love and courage, in a world flickering between human and mythological, guided by the positive enthusiasm of a friend and a magic compass. Grace’s discovery that her mother is a selkie allows her to create a link between the magic and human worlds, and to establish equilibrium and peace.


There are four versatile and talented actors in this play, managing to populate the stage with a multitude of characters and atmospheres. They filled a very simple scenery with songs, music and sound effects, taking the public through a journey of imagination. The entire soundtrack is played live by the actors, each mastering several musical instruments. Kent beautifully impersonates Grace, giving the character the innocence and freshness of a young woman who is just starting to make her way in life and discovering new feelings.


Fintan Quinn plays Tom, a genuine and optimistic young man, who accompanies Grace in her journey and whose uncontaminated eyes are keen to the presence of magic and mystery. Stuart Curlett and Alice Robinson, play the roles of Grace’s father and mother, respectively, give life to two mature characters who are set in their ways, each deeply anchored to their respective human and supernatural worlds.

This venue is special. Unlike productions that take place in more traditional stages and theatres, this is the first zero waste theatre space in the UK. At first glance, the Greenhouse is a simple shed-like building. Once the doors are closed, it is transformed into a magical bubble, where the sunlight enters through the translucent roof and the sounds of vibrant London muted. The compact circular structure draws the audience close to the characters on the central stage and the events unfolding before their eyes. The actors are masters of activating the imagination using only simple props: a wooden bench becomes a fireplace, then a boat, the stage floor a bed, or the sea.


The only remark I have is that the ending is perhaps a little too perfect: with peace and harmony between the enchanted world of selkies and humans, a grown respect between the initially estranged parents, and a young love that seemingly will last forever. While time is taken to introduce and develop the characters, the resolution of the plot was in contrast fairly simplistic and felt a touch rushed. But perhaps, in our world where things are so often painted in shades of grey, when can we indulge in such positivity if not in a fairy tale?


Highly recommend to those that wish to immerse themselves for one evening in an enchanted dimension right in the heart of London.



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