Don’t just take our word for it!
When you create a brand-new show, you never quite know how it’s going to turn out. You can plan and prepare and write and organise and dream, but what actually gets created is the result of so many different elements that it’s impossible to know exactly how it’s going to look and sound. And it’s impossible to say how it’s going to be received by an audience. Peril at Sea is now in its fourth week of performances, and it’s going down very well! Here are some snippets from our audiences so far:
‘It was fascinating to watch the actors change as the stories were told, the set so clever, the Square Tower a fabulous venue. Horror, tears, and laughter beautifully told – thank you very much, best wishes for a successful tour, and I do hope you return with more fascinating stories.’ (Portsmouth)
‘It was a beautifully simple set and the cast were very good in their various roles switching effortlessly from one tale to the next. Kaitlin was a very sympathetic performer, Andrew dealt with his characters with strength and wisdom, and Alex had superb stage presence as well a great singing voice.’ (Portsmouth)
‘A really satisfying piece of theatre.’ (Portsmouth)
‘That was stunning. So polished.’ (Isle of Wight)
‘As an employee of the RNLI, I felt your performance completely captured the spirit and ethos of what saving lives at sea means in many communities. I really enjoyed the heart-warming stories, songs and endearing characters fantastically brought to life by your wonderful performers. Please pass on my feedback and thanks to them for an enjoyable evening.’ (Poole)
‘Wonderful chemistry between the cast and thought provoking, sometime harrowing stories delicately and beautifully told. Well done!’ (Eastbourne)
‘Very atmospheric, loved the singing and got absorbed in the stories told, a real treat, you could see how professionally the play was executed. Massive well done, thank you.’ (Gravesend)
We make theatre for audiences, so what they have to say really matters. Thank you to those who have given us their thoughts so far, it really means a great deal when you take the time to write to us.
Peril at Sea – On Tour!
We’re now about half-way through our tour. Peril has played Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, Poole, Eastbourne, Faversham, Gravesend, Deal, Broadstairs, London and Portland. As I write the team have just got to St Ives, where they play the Guildhall this evening. We’ve had a brilliant mix of venues so far, community theatres, small-scale studios, a military tower and a lightship. The last two really were evocative: The Square Tower with its bare brick walls, a literal stone’s throw from the beach, and the lightship’s intimate setting couldn’t have been more appropriate.
The production is going down incredibly well with audiences. We’ve had wonderful responses, from RNLI employees and supporters, sailors, ex-Navy personnel, and those who have nothing to do with the sea whatsoever. As I watched the show last week, I realised it really is pure story telling. Three actors and a fantastic set with a few additional props and costume pieces are all we need to span the generations, from 1703 right up to the present day. It’s three actors, but a multitude of characters.
The central plot involves three almost-strangers, thrown together to wait out a storm. In and around this scenario our trio weave stories, songs and memories, about struggles to survive, maritime disasters and astonishing acts of bravery. There are moments of humour and horror, tears and laughter. Above all, it’s a play about community. Almost every scene, every story, links back to community somehow. Which is why it’s such an apt play to tour. We’re coming in to your communities to tell these tales and share these stories. And if you’d like to join in with the singing, that’s absolutely fine with us!
Meet the cast – Káitlin A Feeney – Martha
Hi Káit, how are you finding working on Peril at Sea?
Exciting. Exhilarating. Rewarding. Tiring. Challenging!
What do you think audiences will make of the production?
I hope they will go away with a real sense of the stories. Up The Read Theatre really are a story telling company, and I think audiences will enjoy the stories being told. There are so many stories in this piece! We are going largely to coastal venues but also a few that are further inland – I’m interested to see how reactions and responses will differ. I think the production will make people think about their relationship or connection with the sea, wherever they are.
Are there any places you are particularly looking forward to visiting?
We’re going to so many places that I’ve not been to before! But I’m really looking forward to revisiting Perranporth. They had a Celtic Festival in the 80s, based in a hotel that we used to go to. Wonderful memories: swimming in freezing cold seas, beautiful beaches and beautiful scenery. And I’m looking forward to returning to Wells, it’s such a brilliant place to rehearse. So welcoming. We’ll be back here at the end of our own voyage!
What are you looking forward to about the run or performing the show?
On any show there are times when it feels like wading through treacle, but then you reach that point when you turn a corner and you can enjoy performing it. It will take me back to my roots of touring days, getting everything out of a van and meeting lots of different people at the venues.
Tell us a bit about your character, Martha.
She is a stalwart of the village. Trustworthy, people trust her with their secrets. She’s almost like a modem of the village, she knows so much. She’s always there to help but never intrudes, she will only offer advice if it’s asked for. She feels a deep sense of responsibility for one of the lads in the lifeboat, which is weighing heavily on her, moreso as the night draws on.
Finally, have you any coastal or seafaring stories you’d like to share?
When he was a lad, my father went rowing on Lough Corrib (near Galway in Ireland) with a friend. There’s something like 365 islands on this lake. They went onto one of those islands and lost track of time. The weather changed, and they couldn’t get back. As the night came on, a big search and rescue operation was launched. Dad and his friend returned while everyone was still out looking for him! He was in a fair bit of trouble…
Meet the cast – Alex Scott Fairley – Bobby
Hi Alex, thank you for joining us. What are you looking forward to about touring Peril at Sea?
I regularly run on Shipwrights’ Way, the route they used for transporting timber to the shipyards, so visiting boatyards and boathouses will be interesting. I really love Portsmouth as a city. I’m looking forward to returning to Lowestoft too. I was there on the day of Storm Doris, a lot of the shops shut early because the winds were so high. I’m looking forward to fossil hunting in Portland too!
How are you finding working on Peril at Sea?
I’m really enjoying working on something that’s new. You can give more creatively as it’s new ground being explored for the first time. All the main characters have an arc, but you also get to play so many other characters so it’s the best of both worlds. It’s challenging but in a good way. It’s also enhanced my knowledge of all things maritime, I’m learning a lot.
What do you think audiences will take from Peril at Sea?
The play reminds us how influenced we have been by the fact we are an island. There are also surprises within that history; we have stories audiences will know and those that they won’t. There are moving moments in the show. In this day and age, it’s reassuring to hear of people who put their lives at risk to save others, without question. It’s a huge testament to the human spirit. Audiences will laugh, but also learn and enjoy it. There’s something for everyone, even if you’re not really interested in maritime history.
What are you looking forward to about performing Peril at Sea?
It’s a great chance to stretch yourself and use all your range. There are quite quick changes of mood, it’s lovely to watch the effect of that on an audience. Also, there is no escape from the audience as an actor and I really like that. Audience reactions will have an impact or influence on this piece.
How would you describe your character, Bobby?
He’s an outsider. An anomaly in his village. His exclusion from usual village life has made him quite pensive and isolated, then he suddenly finds himself in close quarters to someone who has the key to unlocking something in his past. There’s a slight innocence to him, he’s been a bit sheltered and he wants to find out more.
Finally, have you any sea or coastal stories or thoughts for us?
I love natural history. The beach is very interesting because it’s where two worlds meet, and it’s liminal – a place where invasions take place, journeys start from. Oh and when I was on one of my first jobs I got pulled into the sea by a wave at Torquay – I had to go to rehearsals completely soaked!
Meet the cast – Andrew Forbes – Isaac
Hello Andrew! You’ve recently had a stint on Coronation Street, this is a very different kettle of fish. How are you finding working on the production?
Perilous! No, seriously, it’s interesting. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before. All my past theatre work has been straight plays. Peril at Sea has a number of different elements, different scenarios, different stories, which is new to me.
What do you think audiences will take from Peril at Sea?
It will be quite interesting to see, there’s a lot in there! I hope they will appreciate and recognise the research, and acknowledge the content.
Are there are places you’re particularly looking forward to touring to?
Genuinely all of them. Visiting lots of different places is one of the pleasures of touring. I’ve been to lots of the areas before, but not many of these towns and villages. I’m looking forward to visiting new places too, and seeing the lightship. My grandfather, Bill Forbes, was born in St Helen, Lancaster, in 1880, so I’m looking forward to heading up that way. I grew up in Frodsham in Cheshire, and I have family from the Wirral.
What are you looking forward to about the production itself?
Recreating the setting in the more unconventional venues will be challenging. We really need to be flexible and adaptable.
Tell us a bit about Isaac, your character in Peril at Sea.
I think the expression is ‘still waters run deep’. He’s emotionally complex. He’s someone that’s suffered from the strictures of the society he’s grown up in, and taken an emotional battering in life. He’s withdrawn into himself. There’s a certain sadness to the guy, it’s almost a life wasted as he could have been so much happier.
Finally, have you got any sea stories or memories of your own?
For the first eight years of my life we went to Colwyn Bay on holiday. We went by train and I used to stand at the top of the station steps, spade in one hand, bucket in the other, and shout ‘Seside!’ There was always an excitement about going there, a real joy about it. They had a little train along the front, a permanent fun fair with dodgems and what have you. The beach was great, they were great holidays.
The Road to Wells
In just under a month, three actors, a designer, director and company stage manager will descend on Wells-next-the-Sea. Finally! We’ve been planning Peril at Sea for a long old time – finding partners, booking the tour, collating show images, making trailers, and researching, researching, researching.
Now, all that research (well, not all of it!) has been shaped and moulded into a script, ready to be explored by our three fine actors: Andrew Forbes, Káitlin A Feeney and Alex Scott Fairley. I’m thrilled with the cast, and I know at least one of them is excited as she keeps telling me!
You can now book your tickets for Peril at Sea. Hurrah! Have a look at our tour schedule for dates and details. Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Dorset, Kent, Cornwall, Cumbria, Lancashire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk – we’re clocking up some miles!
But our first stop is Wells-next-the-Sea, and by the looks of a recent film on twitter, we might well need our wellies!
The Adventure Begins…
So it’s been a while since our last missive.
But, as promised, we’ve been planning and thinking so it’s time for an update.
We are developing our second production, Peril at Sea. Inspired by our coastal location and the phenomenal force that is the ocean, we’re making a brand new play. An exploration of seafaring, based on real stories, events, places and characters, with a bit of artistic licence!
There are so many exciting things about this project. Firstly, we have some terrific partners on board – New Theatre Royal Portsmouth, the all new Wells Maltings, The Seagull in Lowestoft and LV21, a decommissioned lightship in Gravesend.
We’ve received significant funding from Arts Council England, which is fantastic, and The Leche Trust have added their support. We’ve also had brilliant contributions from a number of individuals and businesses, which is much appreciated and we’ll be celebrating them on here soon.
We’ve had two weeks of Research and Development, one with The Seagull and one in Wells-next-the-Sea. Two actors with me each week, and our designer Charlie joined us in Wells. We explored the research material that I’ve been gathering from all over the country, tested ideas for the central characters and learned more about the sea and those who live by it. We’ve met some amazing people and been encouraged by the support we’ve received.
Coming very soon will be a casting announcement, so keep an eye out for that. (We’re excited already!)
We go into rehearsals in February, in Wells, then we have production week and previews in Portsmouth, before heading off on tour on March 1st, starting on the Isle of Wight.
More dates and details will be up shortly.
So there’s a lot going on! Can’t wait.