Tag Archives: Wendy Nottingham

Time and Tide

Time and Tide


Park Theatre

Time and Tide

Time and Tide

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 7th February 2020



“There are a lot of good things going on, but it feels a little too focussed on getting several points across”


Relish Theatre’s new play by James McDermott is set in Cromer in Norfolk, a town that is going through an influx of chain stores and cafes and, maybe, losing its soul. May, played by Wendy Nottingham, in in her fifties and runs a good old fashioned caff at the end of the pier, which may become a Pret a Manger if she sells it. Should she stay or sell up? Ken delivers bread around the town, as he has every day for forty years. What will happen to him if the traditional places close down? Nemo is about to leave and follow his dream, becoming a drama student in London. Daz is staying put, can’t see what’s wrong with Cromer, can’t see what’s right about going to college. Nobody acknowledges their feelings, but Nemo is gay and thinks he is in love with Daz, his best mate. Daz is straight, or is he?

Time and Tide got off to a rather slow start as May and Nemo prepared the cafe for opening. Their relationship was nicely established, with May’s love of old films and Nemo’s doubts creating a believable friendship between this unlikely pair. The first odd directorial decision was when the lights dimmed, and the tables were cleaned for a second time. It’s little things like this that can throw an audience off from the world of the play. ‘But Nemo just cleaned the tables with the squirty bottle and kitchen towel, and arranged the salt and pepper. Why are they doing it again?’ Sadly it wasn’t the only time more aware direction would have been advisable. Ken came in with his bread and gave an enjoyable comic focus to the scene, adding an obvious attraction to May into the mix, Paul Easom managed not to turn Ken into a stock comic character, giving him a vulnerability underneath the comedy that was likeable and sweet. It was all rather charming, but the underlying litany of chain stores taking over the high street felt a bit artificial; more a point to be made than an integral part of the story. it is an important theme in the tale, but the lack of subtlety was wearing.

The central relationship is that of Nemo and Daz, played by Josh Barrow and Elliot Liburd. Barrow’s Nemo was delightful in his insecurity, likeable, wavering and sad. Liburd was the polar opposite, bringing a much needed energy; a loud, sweary cheeky lad down the pub. The two friends had a lot going on beneath the surface, and it had to come out. I don’t want to give away what happens, but at one point Nemo ended up on the floor, at the feet of the audience, and stayed there for quite a while. This made him invisible to at least half the room at a key point in the play. It’s a mistake often made in small theatres, and I wish directors would sit in the back row during rehearsals, with people in front of them and think about positioning.

James McDermott has written a sort of love story to old English seaside towns, as well as a story of different kinds of love between people. There are a lot of good things going on, but it feels a little too focussed on getting several points across. Director Rob Ellis almost succeeded in making it work, but someone needs to tell him that when something is thrown through a window from inside the broken glass is going to be mostly outside, not all over the floor.


Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Gail Harland


Time and Tide

Park Theatre until 29th February


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Weatherman | ★★★ | August 2019
Black Chiffon | ★★★★ | September 2019
Mother Of Him | ★★★★★ | September 2019
Fast | ★★★★ | October 2019
Stray Dogs | | November 2019
Sydney & The Old Girl | ★★★★ | November 2019
Martha, Josie And The Chinese Elvis | ★★★★★ | December 2019
The Snow Queen | ★★★★ | December 2019
Rags | ★★★ | January 2020
Shackleton And His Stowaway | ★★★ | January 2020


Click here to see our most recent reviews


The Importance of Being Earnest

Watermill Theatre

The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

The Watermill Theatre

Reviewed – 27th May 2019



“an inventive new take on an old favourite”


Should we care about ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’? Oscar Wilde’s best-known play about misplaced identities was written at the height of his fame. His brilliant wit shines in every scene and the piece features that line about a piece of left luggage that is probably as much quoted as ‘to be or not to be’.

The Watermill’s new production partly attempts to prove its relevance by setting the play in a contemporary apartment, which is all dull grey minimalism, and in the opening scene, decorated with a road traffic cone. It’s the kind of achingly trendy place that’s all concealed doors and cupboards, with a big Morris wallpaper feature wall, which in Sally Ferguson’s lighting design is cleverly lit to match the mood. At the start of the play the set seemed simply incongruous, lacking the glitz that might be expected of a London socialite’s pad. Weirdly, the cups are paper and the plates foil, a kind of knowing send-up that seemed just odd in the first half, but made perfect sense in the second when the play takes a surreal turn. The almost empty apartment does however come complete with a fully-liveried butler, played with glassy-eyed determination by the impressive Morgan Philpott. He begins and ends the show, as well as sustaining a crowd-pleasingly clever running gag throughout it that calls for the most impeccable timing.

So the scene is set for an inventive new take on an old favourite, as much beloved of amateur productions as it is of countless high profile cinema and stage versions. The lead, Algernon, is played by a splendidly gangling Peter Bray (RSC and the Globe). Wilde seems to have put most of himself into this ‘Bunburying’ young fop who gets some of the best lines. Bray more than rises to the challenge. As Jack, Benedict Salter is also excellent. In a splendid piece of direction by the very inventive Kate Budgen, Bray and Salter perform a kind of mad pas-de-deux to a Liszt piano concerto in a scene about muffins. ‘I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them’. Much has been written about the gay sub-text, in a play which was written when to be ‘earnest’ was to be gay. What with the Bunburying and cucumbers for ready money, it certainly doesn’t lack in innuendo, and this was nicely handled in this production.

Both young men and their female opposite numbers, Gwendolen (Claudia Jolly) and Cecily (Charlotte Beaumont), are splendidly dressed in period costumes. Wilde’s young women may be trapped in a suffocating Victorian system where a woman’s marriage is more about money than love, but his characters shine in these interpretations. Charlotte Beaumont in particular has a kind of winningly mad insistence, that in the second half almost took the play into Lewis Carroll territory.

And what of Lady Bracknell’s ‘handbag’ line, so famously delivered with ringing disdain by Edith Evans, then whispered by Maggie Smith in a role also played by Judi Dench and even David Suchet? Connie Walker certainly brings the ‘gorgon’ to life in her commanding interpretation. Wendy Nottingham makes a suitably dowdy Miss Prism, and Jim Creighton is a satisfying Dr Chasuble.

‘To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of modern life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution’. Just for lines like this, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is more than worth the price of a ticket. This fresh and inventive new production at the Watermill makes it more than doubly so.


Reviewed by David Woodward

Photography by Philip Tull


The Importance of Being Earnest

The Watermill Theatre until 29th June



The Watermill Theatre – winner of our 2018 Awards – Best Regional Theatre


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Rivals | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Burke & Hare | ★★★★ | April 2018
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | ★★★★ | May 2018
Jerusalem | ★★★★★ | June 2018
Trial by Laughter | ★★★★ | September 2018
Jane Eyre | ★★★★ | October 2018
Robin Hood | ★★★★ | December 2018
Murder For Two | ★★★★ | February 2019
Macbeth | ★★★ | March 2019
Amélie | ★★★★★ | April 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com