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Review: Sea Fret at the Old Red Lion Theatre

Powerful forces at play in Talulah Brown’s hymn to Suffolk coastline

06 April, 2017 — By Elizabeth Gear

Lucy Carless in Sea Fret

“Your house is falling into the sea, we have one chance to save it, where are you?” asks middle-class Pam sporting her Hunters wellies and an authoritative voice. Sea Fret is writer Tallulah Brown’s paean to the Suffolk coastline where she grew up, and focuses on the local struggles experienced by people who are powerless against both the higher authorities and nature.

For all the calmness that the gentle sound of waves lapping against the shore induces, the audience is soon made aware of the destructive power of the ocean, and what is at stake for our protagonists.
An impending meeting will decide whether the council will intervene as the sea destroys the two families’ homes which stand on the edge of a cliff. Throughout the process we witness varying levels of protest and tacit acquiescence.

Ruby’s drunkard father Jim does not seem perturbed – scratching away at a lotto card and claiming he’s filing his tax returns. Initially, Ruby seems more like a bad influence on her ambitious friend Lucy than wired for change.

With time, Brown reveals that there is more complexity to these characters. We come to realise that Ruby has drive, resilience and a caring nature, which perhaps cannot be said for her childhood friend.

Ultimately, Sea Fret makes voice of the British working class a little louder, and brings to light the struggles of those whose lives seem less of a priority to those at the top. It does so with humour and compassion.

Until April 22
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