Abigail Bryant reviews The Sea at Camden People's Theatre
It’s not difficult to feel alone in a room full of people, and Tom Froy’s The Sea explores isolation against the saturation of physical company in a city like London. With creative use of film, photography, music and props, this is a play which isn’t explicit in its message, but manages to convey authentic emotion and a relatable lens on city living. However, despite having a fascinating subject matter at its core, The Sea fails to leverage the rich potential of the concept, and doesn’t deliver a satisfying and well-rounded narrative. Despite frequent moments of laughter and sentiment, this two-parter feels disjointed and clumsy, the main issue lying in a relationship story line with little depth or substance.
Tom Froy’s writing is sophisticated and relevant, and Sarah Dean executes the role of our aptly unnamed protagonist perfectly. She is compelling and engaging but has an underlying vulnerability that makes her instantly relatable and warm. She pours out her innermost thoughts and woes against a stark set, accompanied only by a simple clothes rack and haunting images of various London locations. Her interactions with ‘B’, played by Rebecca Hendri, bring to life the awkward and complex conventions of modern friendship, but their chemistry in terms of staging and dialogue feels artificial, and characterisation a little one dimensional.
Human connection in an urban environment is explored in The Sea via humorous anecdotes such as agonising calls to phone providers, as well as more sombre moments of deeper philosophical questioning. Does digital communication overcome isolation? Is anyone ever significant in a big city? Does technological access to others generate an ‘easy come, easy go’ culture? Although these are lofty and textured questions, this production too delicately prods the waters, and I was left feeling unfulfilled and excluded from what could have been a two-way conversation.
More information about The Sea can be found here.