Writer: Gareth Farr
Director: Nick Bagnall
Reviewer: Craig Barber
While Latitude takes place on the east coast, it’s the west coast resort of Blackpool that provides the setting for Gareth Farr’s Britannia Waves the Rules.
Like many young men who become disillusioned with their home town, Carl is seduced by the timeless Army recruitment promise of join up and see the world. For a young man who can see no future for himself in the seaside reside the prospect of a new career and a new sense of belonging is attractive.
Carl feels somewhat alone in a town he’s grown to dislike. He’s frustrated by the lack of opportunity, angered by the pretence of his drinking mates and slowly coming to terms with the loss of his mother. It’s easy to see why the regimented structure and close bonds of Army life would appeal.
When Carl swaps the sand of Blackpool beach for the deserts of Afghanistan though the true nature of Army life begins to take its toll on the young man.
Farr’s script, a Bruntwood prize winner, captures perfectly the torment of a man on the run. On the run from a bleak future but also on the run from his mental pain and emotions. That running is a device Director Nick Bagnall utilises as a theme throughout, keeping Carl in constant motion.
Bagnall has also drawn out a stunning central performance from Dan Parr as Carl. Onstage throughout, Parr commands the stage, totally convincing as a young man desperately trying to find his route through life, frequently frustrated with both himself and society. It’s a performance of high physicality and high emotion and one that Parr pitches perfectly, even in the challenging surrounds of the Latitude Theatre tent. There’s fine support from Roger Evans, Michael Peavoy and Francesca Zoutewelle but its Parr’s mesmerising performance that lingers in the mind.
A play about the trauma of active service may seem an unlikely choice for a festival setting but its testament to the power of the piece that the, often transient, Latitude audience sat transfixed for 90 minutes.
Photo: Rebecca Naen