Tuesday, July 5

Deep Blue – Paperwork Theatre

Riley is a woman of a certain age, caught in-between two worlds, above and below the water. Deep Blue is a show about what it means to belong and the importance of human connection when you live alone. Its Twitter tag is #StopLoneliness and the original music is by the Mono LPs.

The four-person cast (Danielle McLauren, Tom Wilson, Edalia Day and Holly Phelps) play all the characters and the indie-rock soundtrack in this honest, heartfelt and humorous show from a company who explore theatre, community and workshops across the North West of England.

Fully aware of both the changes in climate and the need for humans to have friendships, families, or a transient chat with a stranger on the street, Deep Blue presents Riley as an ordinary woman who creates her own little worlds while she shops and dreams about what her life may have been.

This is a creative show which benefits from solid performances throughout: McLauren is convincing but never pathetic as Riley; Day effectively crafts the character of “flaky Alex”, Riley’s trans friend. Wilson and Phelps play key roles in Riley’s life with ease. The music, performed by Day, Wilson and Phelps, is not overwhelming, but rather complements the slowly evolving story.

Picture: Wesley Storey

There are the oft-repeated jokes about the failure of technology (video calls on mute, Tesco checkout machines failing), but as the show unfolds Riley’s yawning sense of loss becomes clear: no partner, no pet, family at a distance (her mum “never asks how she is”), friends moving on.

Written by Hayley Greggs and directed by Nicole Behan, with musical direction by Ste and Vicky Reid, these are small stories, in small spaces, but with a wider significance. The set design by Sascha Gilmour hints at over-consumption and pollution without overwhelming the stage in which the quartet perform. Phil Saunders’ lighting design evokes feelings of warmth and intimacy at some points, and the deep blue sea at others.

Deep Blue has moments of great power, and its heart is certainly on its sleeve when it comes to zooming in on one moment of human connection. Whether it is something all of us should look for is a moot point; it is believable for this character, and she is completely recognisable. The use of music is inspired and gives this show an extra depth.

You can book for this show until 15th May at https://paperworktheatre.co.uk/deep-blue/  Each ticket allows 12 hours access.

Reviewer: Louise Penn

Reviewed: 8th May 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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