Park Theatre (venue)
07 February 2020 (released)
09 February 2020
“Norfolk’s bootiful. Miles of coastline, endless sky. So much space to dream big dreams. But there’s nowhere round here to make those dreams come true.”
Set in a failing end of pier ‘Caff’ we glimpse a pivotal day in the lives of 4 people who are intrinsically linked to this particular place.
Cromer, like a lot of small seaside towns is losing out, with big businesses taking over their shops, and an aging community that has little to offer their youth, let alone a young and sensitive gay man.
James McDermott, has chosen to write about something that is very close to his own experiences and this shows in the way that he has portrayed the bitter sweet truth within the main character of Nemo, and how his decision to leave Cromer and move to London, is influenced and challenged by those around him. He struggles with his own future in relation to the needs of May, who is selling up the family Caff, and his mate Daz, who is fighting against feelings that go beyond mere friendship.
The performances of Josh Barrow as Nemo, and Elliot Liburd as Daz are pitched perfectly and make their scenes full of truth and a myriad of deep emotions. Mc Dermott’s writing here, is at its very best.
Wendy Nottingham as May is every bit the ex dancer who never got her chance, and is desperate to make sure the Nemo doesn’t miss his. She is pursued by Paul Easom as Ken the Baker whose business is also failing due to the likes of Costa pushing out his clients. He hopes for more than kindly support, but is destined to fail in that too. Both give excellent performances, though their characters are less multi dimensional , and not written with the same amount of depth. They have some great comedy moments, giving the audience the background to the failing town and exposing their reliance on each other for survival. However, with less subtext to explore, their characters are inevitably more superficial.
Rob Ellis’s direction is tight and makes good use of the small stage to convey the claustrophobic nature of the play, together with the repetitive physicality of running of an end of pier cafe. Though the food checking and prep punctuate the scenes of revelation in a clever way, their slight overuse becomes a distraction. Caitlin Abbot’s set, beautifully captures the atmosphere and run down charm of the Caff, and the sticking door as a metaphor for the plays struggles, was a nice touch.
This is a humorous and moving portrayal of trapped lives, and the battle between stability and craving a better future. It is peppered with brilliant one liners and moments of poetic excellence. Thoroughly enjoyable, but with a slow to develop opening ,and an overly conclusive end, it just misses its full potential.