Some creative genius is going on with the staging for Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play for HighTide When The Long Trick’s Over
“Arm over head
It was never in doubt but it is still worth restating – HighTide’s commitment to theatre is admirable. Their production of Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play When The Long Trick’s Over has not only embarked on a tour of the East of England including Aldeburgh, Lowestoft, Diss, Halesworth and Bury St Edmunds, but two shows from its initial run at the New Wolsey in Ipswich were livestreamed for all to see – its just great to see companies truly invested in getting people to see original work.
The play is a curious one, highly inventive in its staging by Grace Smart, as we follow a young woman who is tackling a swim across the English Channel. It wasn’t her plan to do it but she’s signed up in order to pay tribute to the dreams of her sister and in the moments when it feels like she might not meet those ambitions, the presence of her sternly unforgiving mother appears as a somewhat-motivational force, giving her strength to face the unrelenting waves.
The focus thus falls on the connectedness and complications between female family members. As Stacey Ghent’s swimmer ploughs through stroke after stroke, coming up with a witty set of top 10s (the 90s tune are on point, the swear words amusing), we see it isn’t just the weight of the water she’s dealing with, but the weight of so much grief carried with her. Physically and mentally, we see how the emotional toll can be a difficult one to work through, particularly when past hurts come to the fore.
Shenagh Govan as the dead mother has a more difficult job to do in making her anything more than an entirely antagonistic device. But Ghent is doing everything in a swimsuit whilst suspended in a cage so I think she wins that round! And creatively the show is stunning. Smart’s set intersects beautifully with the textures of Gillian Tan’s lighting and video work, and the all-encompassing nature of Esther Kehinde Ajayi’s soundscape. Chinonyerem Odimba’s production is truly strikingly done.