Reviewer: David Doyle
Katy loves to tell stories, often about knights, princesses, and bravery, but this time, she’s telling her own story, and it’s an enchanting one. Katy is on the autism spectrum and often finds it difficult to connect with people including her sister Hannah who she lives with. Her only real friend is her imaginary dog, Paul Williams, with whom she shares a secret language, and a friendship. Paul Williams is the only one who really understands heruntil Ryan comes along.
The show is a well constructed, wonderfully conceived, and cleverly executed piece from an exciting company who aren’t afraid to tackle challenging subject matters. Known for their excellent musical theatre productions, Patch of Blue has woven that musicality into this piece in a totally fresh manner. Used to demonstrate to the audience the sensory overload that Katy feels on occasions, the live music becomes integral to the piece.
There are elements of the piece that are underwhelming. The projection design fails to add significantly to the show, and certain elements of the writing, most notably the character of Ryan need further development. Despite this, the piece is a truly unique piece of theatre. Beginning before you even set foot in the theatre, the show manages to craft a truly credible central character, offering a window into living with autism for an audience while also presenting a really inventive, and emotionally engaging story. Coupled with fantastic performances, the show really is captivating.
We Live by the Sea needs some further refinement in certain areas but is nonetheless one of the most interesting pieces of theatre you will see in Edinburgh this year. Patch of Blue have clearly pushed themselves in this production, and in so doing have created a truly memorable piece of theatre that marks them out as a company to watch.
Runs until 29August 2016