We Live by the Sea

Patch of Blue is association with Greenwich Theatre and the National Autistic Society

Pleasance Courtyard

From 03 August 2016 to 29 August 2016

Rating: *****

Review by Amy Yorston

We Live by the Sea is Katie’s story: a story about her imaginary dog Paul Williams, her big sister and her new best friend Ryan. It documents her summer holiday adventures and her big presentation to her classmates when she returns to school. It's feelgood and funny, honest and above all completely believable.

Katie doesn't like to be touched, she doesn't like too much noise, she likes to stick to her routine and takes things literally. Katie has autism but that doesn't stop her sharing her story, it spurs her on.

Alex Brain’s performance in the central role is mesmerising as she balances humour and frustration, breaking the fourth wall to chat to the audience whilst committing completely to the scenes within her story.

She is ably supported by Alexandra Simonet, Lizzie Grace and Lloyd Bagley who skilfully represent her important relationships. Simonet’s quiet fear and pride underscores Brain’s exuberance and her moments of vulnerability are particularly moving.

It would, however, have been pleasing to know a little more of Ryan's backstory.

The inclusion of live music adds to the rising and falling emotions and swells the noise in Katie’s head. When she describes her "big wave", the stage is awash with music, emotion and discrete but powerful projections.

Although the Attic is a cramped performance space, this makes the performance feel all the more special as it unfolds with the audience almost as part of the action.

We Live by the Sea is an outstanding piece of theatre with a big heart and carefully honed performances. I cried freely throughout as did the rest of the audience. It's rare for theatre to connect in such a way and Patch of Blue has created something very raw and beautiful.