TIME AND TIDE runs at the Park Theatre until February 29th. information and tickets here

IN BRIEF Seaside quartet faces change with hope in funny and real play which treats its characters with care

“Cromer’s fine for growing up and ending up, but the bit in the middle – you need some life!”. In her run-down cafe on a Norfolk pier, dreamer May is dispensing advice to her “protégé” Nemo, a young gay man stifled by loneliness who’s leaving for the bright lights of London. But he’s torn between staying and going because of his feelings for his best mate, Daz. Is it love, or just bromance?

Amorous, lonely bread supplier Ken is also looking for company – in May’s direction, but things are not as straightforward as they might seem.

In James McDermott’s TIME AND TIDE, this quartet of characters ebb and flow through many challenges and changes in the pivotal day covered in the play’s two-hour duration. It’s enjoyably human; the carefully-crafted script is peppered with gentle comedy, often naturally arising from the situations and carefully brought out by director Rob Ellis. Humour like the daft, punning shop names, mixed with the quickfire comebacks of adolescence, could so easily have sounded lame, but here they contribute to a kind of authenticity, lending a warmth and ease which enables the audience to relax into the show.

Performances are all of a very high standard. Josh Barrow’s Nemo clings to routine in a busy but studied and vulnerable portrayal, allowing us to see the young man outgrowing his surroundings.  Elliot Liburd’s Daz (“the Archbishop of Banterbury”) exudes that natural verbal playfulness of adolescence that masks deeper, more conflicting feelings which don’t come so naturally. Both actors inhabit their roles meticulously, to effect. Wendy Nottingham points up the dreamer in May, mothering the two lads with compassion and a variable regard for reality; and Paul Easom as Ken the lifelong baker (“Cut me and I bleed yeast”) exudes a rough warmth and a gentle, wistful yearning for what he’s never had.

Ending on a hopeful note, TIME AND TIDE captures these sleepy small-town characters and shows us their hopes, realities and dreams. A small, detailed and touching play, it astutely balances its humour with moments of tension and quiet revelation, made all the more satisfying by Rob Ellis’s production.

TIME AND TIDE runs at the Park Theatre until February 29th. information and tickets here

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