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Tide Whisperer review on Tenby beach – ‘thought-provoking stories’

Ebenezer Gyau in Tide Whisperer. Photo: Jennie Caldwell

Under director Kully Thiarai, National Theatre Wales is sharpening its resolve to be a people’s theatre. Tide Whisperer, a new site-specific work by Louise Wallwein, demonstrates how that entails a willingness to broach the most urgent and challenging issues of our time.

Led in groups through Tenby town centre to the beach, then the harbour – some travelling by boat – the audience encounter a series of individuals who relate the trauma of displacement in lonely monologue.

A mother fleeing the Vietnam war (Lourdes Faberes); a man rendered homeless by global capitalism (Ezra Faroque Khan); another seeking freedom from oppression, ensnared himself in people trafficking (Ebenezer Gyau); and, most shamefully close to home, an elderly Windrush Cardiffian threatened with deportation (Susan Aderin).

Deploying language from the poetic to the blatantly direct, their stories depict appalling degradation, racism and brutal loss, yet also courage, beauty and hope as the question is posed: do we – like the fisherman (Ioan Hefin), mayor (Dyfan Roberts) and chorus of local people – stand with refugees and immigrants as the tide of public opinion turns?

Experienced from dry land, the stories are moving and thought-provoking, executed smoothly albeit without clear dramatic rationale by the NTW team. Speech and music are relayed via headphones (by sound designer Mike Beer and composer John Hardy), enhancing an apt impression of both closeness and distance.

The message is ultimately uplifting as the harbour becomes a place of existential safety, and a metaphor for humanity’s better community instincts. While punches sometimes feel pulled – especially at the final scene – the crucial point remains that such safety relies on our openness to hearing the voices of the dispossessed, and to acting in their defence.

Verdict
Thought-provoking stories call us to stand with refugees

Production Information

Production
Tide Whisperer
Venue
Tenby town and beach
City
Tenby
Starts
September 14, 2018
Ends
September 16, 2018
Press night
September 14, 2018
Authors
Louise Wallwein
Composer
John Hardy, Samuel Barnes, Tic Ashfield
Director
Kully Thiarai, Nia Morris (assistant director)
Design
Camilla Clarke
Lighting
Ceri James
Sound
Mike Beer
Costume
Llinos Griffiths
Video
Simon Clode
Technical
Chloe Barnes (local producer), Rhys Pugh Evans (technical manager), Alison Palmer (deputy stage manager), Emily Arnold (assistant stage manager), Edith Morris, Amy Barrett (design assistants), Jon Cox, Gareth Brierley (sound production), Jason King, William Gregory, Lefi Jones, Matthew Davies, Alex Davies, Liam James (production technicians)
Cast includes
Ezra Faroque Khan, Ioan Hefin, Ebenezer Gyau, Matvey Borushko, Lourdes Faberes, Susan Aderin, Dyfan Roberts
Producer
National Theatre Wales
Running time
2hrs 30mins