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The Sea Between

by on 8 September 2022

Rising Tide of Anxiety

The Sea Between

by Demi Leigh

Driftwood and Kibo Productions at the Barons Court Theatre until 17th September

Review by Denis Valentine

The Sea Between, written by Demi Leigh, offers a great snapshot into a modern day problematic relationship whilst intertwining with elements from Greek Mythology.

Leigh (Ginny) and Matthew Kay (Mike) play their two characters well and both bring a high sense of definition and realism to their roles.  The chemistry between their two characters builds from the awkward first meeting into being more familiar, but never properly knowing each other.  The audience, as the fly on their wall to their relationship, can clearly see through well-played foreboding moments where the problems lie, as the play explores those red flag incidents that can be so easily missed when you’re in the subjective rather than objective position. 

Leigh’s performance creates a very likeable and complex character in Ginny and emerges as the clear protagonist whom the audience roots for.  Whether Ginny is being manipulated psychologically through actions such as gaslighting, financial dependency or even physically, Leigh plays these effects with a perfect amount of realism and understatement that actually makes it understandable as to how someone could fall for such ploys.  What at times could lead to eye-rolling thoughts on how someone could not comprehend that they are being manipulated, Leigh’s writing and performance draw sympathy and a sense of familiarity from the audience. 

Kay handles the part of Mike very well.  From the opening scene he comes across as just a typical guy at a Halloween Party who meets his ideal partner.  However, as each scene goes by, guided by director Vittorio Parri, he makes the little flashes of the monster underneath standout well and each moment is felt by the audience.  As the play progresses Kay does well to subtly take the character away from the more imposing monster figure. There are flashes of earlier on and into a much weaker form – to the point where his shift in body language and posture makes the physical threat his character, once imposing, seem a lot less realised. 

Director, Parri does a good job in allowing his actors space to really feel and play the subtle elements in each scene.  Whether it’s just a crucial moment in delivery from Mike or a pause and look from Ginny, Parri makes sure those moments are well realised but never exaggerated to the point of it falling into melodrama. 

The one element of the play that possibly could be explored in a slightly different way to make its intentions clearer, is the more dream sequences which occur throughout, with loud crashing wave sounds and a blue light effect.  The fact is that it only become clearer towards the very end of the play what these sequences are meant to be implying is a shame, as the eventual triumph they resulted in would have resonated more.

The tension and the horror element to what is going on is built well, as the drama and the stakes increase through each scene and time period shift.  The rising anxiety that Leigh manages to generate through the piece is palpably felt at the crucial climax moment late on, where audible gasps are drawn from the audience.   

A scene that results in a moment of physical violence is a very powerful one and the silence that follows it allows Leigh to play the desperation of the circumstances well.  The fact that play features big time-jumps and changes in circumstance between each scene may not suit all tastes, as it would be nice to see the build between the two people in the relationship and how we arrived at certain points.  However, as the play is also to do with people moving too fast in a relationship, and in same the way that the audience does not know too much about them other than what is shown on the surface, neither do the characters. 

For an hour’s snapshot of how toxic relationships can be built, not just in modern society but throughout time, The Sea Between Us offers an interesting and well-acted insight into those elements. 

Denis Valentine, September 2022

Photography by Jevgenija Kuznecova

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
One Comment
  1. Beautifully written!

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