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In its first offering, Judy Upton's The Shorewatchers' House Brigida (Harriet Keevil) is married to Conrad (Michael Tomlinson). However, she still loves her childhood sweetheart Nik (Mark Montgomerie), who is also Conrad's best friend. The two men shared Brigida when they were young, but this love-triangle is stretched to its limit when Brigida seeks an escape from their house on the shore overlooking the nuclear power station where Conrad works.
For Brigida, Nik represents purity and a lost childhood innocence for which she now yearns. This idealistic purity conflicts with the threat of contamination: the fear of nuclear contamination from the plant, and the contamination of violence which is now the only way that Conrad can satisfy his passions. Upton argues that this sense of danger is essential, that we cannot live our lives in an emotional bubble, and that there is no escaping anguish and pain if we want to fulfil our lives completely.
The play weaves this theme through the tangled threads of its plot and images, often very successfully. Conrad has an affair with an anti-nuclear protestor, Milenka (Sarah Toogood), whose child-like innocence is undercut with a brutal eagerness to fight Conrad when the demonstration starts at the plant. The sand that is kicked up by the cast tangibly symbolises the deadly dust that spills out of the power station.
Annabel Shapiro's design effectively evokes a mood of a house that is emotionally and physically at the edge of the world. It's a courageous stab at a complex subject and, like the venue itself, you can't help but want it to succeed.
Tassos Stevens - What's On 1/11/1995
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