Buying a house by the sea to raise a baby seems to be an ideal life for a couple but Kate (Kathryn Bond) and Liv (Gemma Lawrence) don’t seem connected to each other. Liv is overjoyed with the baby while Kate is struggling to manage work and home life. Jenny (Gemma Barnett), Kate’s sister, visits the house and cannot seem to stay away from Liv, whom she had an instant attraction at a previous party.
The Beach House reveals the 3 women’s journeys as they navigate their relationships as siblings, partners, and lovers.
The writing is naturalistic and punctuated by silences which makes sense since the writer Jo Harper has written a lot of plays for tv and films.
Receiving its first production having been short-listed for Liverpool Hope playwriting and long-listed for Theatre 503 awards, The Beach House comes to The Park Theatre directed by Bethany Pitts.
The lighting and sound by Laura Howard and Holly Khan respectively are simple and peeled back giving us the atmosphere of being near the sea while simultaneously increasing the stakes of the play.
The beach house the characters buy has potential but there are a lot of structural problems with the house. The roof starts leaking and it just keeps getting worse producing a very clever metaphor for the trajectory of the show. The water hitting the bucket that keeps getting fuller and fuller helps to punctuate the story as well.
The play really works in-the-round stage where you see the different emotional journeys of 3 women all revolving around the birth of a baby. There’s fluidity in the movement of all characters in the space which makes us feel like we’re not losing parts of the story.
Gemma Lawrence offers one of the best performances of the year so far with a very strong tumultuous inner life without overplaying it making us immediately root for her despite her questionable actions.
There were beautiful moments of intentional movement and very truthful. Gemma Lawrence knows how to be alone on stage and unfiltered.
The chemistry between the couple was questionable. There was not a lot of time invested in the relationship between Jenny and Kate.
Whether something is lacking with the directing or the work of the actors the relationship between the sisters isn’t established enough. The love they say they have for each other is never reflected in their actions and after the climax of the show we get back to the mundane life of their awkward relationship. The same happens with the couple we skip moments that seem relevant to the story to make us care about the couple.
There are beautiful moments of active listening and specificity in the physicality of all three while also being there moments of cliché responses and demonstrative reactions.
Overall a truly gentle love-filled show with flaws and good intentions that any audience can relate to.