The Eastern Angles production of We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea is a wonderful adaptation, penned by Nick Wood, of the Arthur Ransome’s children’s book of the same name. Last night we enjoyed the first performance of the play’s three week run.
The book centres on the adventures of the Walker children, John, Susan, Titty and Roger, as they holiday at Pin Mill where they meet Jim who invites them to sail on his boat Goblin. Everything looks to be going swimmingly - until the children find themselves adrift and cast out to sea.
The play is performed in The Hush House at Bentwaters Park, originally built as a jet engine testing facility. There is a sense of history to The Hush House which adds to the atmosphere of the play to times gone by. The performance is an utter joy, capturing an old world sense of delight for the pastime of sailing as well as the can-do attitudes of the children when faced with danger. The cast are brilliant and each member doubles up to include the characters of Mr and Mrs Walker, Jim and the Pilot.
The play is successful in remaining faithful to the book as well as invoking a sense of joy the children experience out on the water. There is a great balance between danger and fun, anger and tenderness - all rounded out with well timed comedy moments that capitalize on the innocence of the children which make the funny moments even funnier.
The music is also in keeping with the time period to further benefit the play’s charm and the near constant sound of water lapping at the side of the boat could almost convince you that you were truly at sea. The music combined with projections of turbulent waves and fast approaching buoys aids to the tension.
The stage itself is ingeniously designed - the profile theatre is circular and raised which affords a great view for the audience wherever they sit. The set is Goblin, complete with rudder and mast and strew with clever props - particularly the dreaded foghorn. The players sway as though they were truly cast off, and the floor of the Goblin is patterned with the markings of a nautical chart.
The cast are fantastic; John is headstrong but not as infallible as he likes to think he is, Susan is a brilliant combination of mother hen and sassy sister, Titty is charming with unbridled enthusiasm, until a bout of seasickness hits her, and Roger draws the short straw being the youngest but is perhaps the most memorable of the crew.
Around two hours long, with a brief intermission, We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea was a brilliant evening’s entertainment.
We highly recommend.
Why not stay at Pin Mill? Try not to get cast adrift by staying at River View (sleeps 4) which overlooks the River Orwell.