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Beside The Seaside

The Unity Theatre
6th- 9th April 2011

Author: Jennifer Bea
Director: Kaley Foran
Cast: Jennifer Bea, Anna Denise Whelan, Tom Hosker and John McGrellis

Running time: 1hour 50minutes




Link: Unity Theatre Liverpool official website

Four actors, a minimalist set, the story of people thrown together through University and the result is, hilariously funny, interesting and poignant. It plays on our lack of understanding and our judgement of others; do we really know the people we live with? Who were they before we met them? Also in a time when equal access to university education is again being debated, the issues that this performance delves into are very relevant.

All the characters are at university for different reasons; family expectations, a route out of poverty or simply to build a good life for themselves. It asks us to question our own attitudes and consider if everyone should have the right to a university education. It also tackles the issues we face as we enter adulthood at 18, whether it’s dealing with new found freedom, cultivating and sustaining friendships, coping with living away from home or being confronted by people’s prejudices. It accurately portrays university as a cross roads where we collide with others from outside our comfort zone and this is exactly what happens when Mags, Tina, Callum and Max reach the seaside.

With an almost totally bare stage the cast led by Jennifer Bea as ‘Mags’ performs magnificently, you’re captivated equally by the comedy moments  and the genuinely moving ones.  With a cast of such able actors more props or scenery would simply have been surplus to requirements. The strength of this performance lies in its simplicity with a story people can connect to, though this by no means makes it predictable. It gives us a real taste of university life - so much so that it evoked long forgotten memories of my own university experience.

As a result of skilled acting and clever direction, the abstract fairground scene is enchanting and creates a real sense of seaside magic. The sounds and sensations of that tacky, fun, shambolic and slightly dilapidated place feel almost tangible. The characters have substance and their issues are rooted in real life problems: as we discover these problems, the facades that the characters hide behind begin to unravel. They are exposed as vulnerable, inexperienced and having to fend for themselves in this new adult world where they alone bear the consequences of their actions. This is a topical, absorbing and well-written tale for our times.

The balance between fun, laughter and the harshness of reality has been carefully trodden and despite the change in pace and mood you leave feeling uplifted, knowing that with a little bit of luck everything can turn out well.

Nina Lloyd Jones



Link: Unity Theatre Liverpool official website



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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