Dry Land at Jermyn Street Theatre
Ruby Rae Spiegal’s Dry Land is a daring, bold and unique piece of theatre. It is provocative and shocking, yet at its heart it is honest and real in its representation of the terrifically confusing coming-of-age period.
The play depicts the growing relationship between the loud, brash and sexually promiscuous Amy (Milly Thomas) and the shy, painfully awkward and swimming-obsessed Ester (Aisha Fabienne Ross) as they struggle to deal with Amy’s problems. All the action takes place in the changing room of their swimming team. The production uses this set to its full potential, taking advantage of the small space with heightened sound effects, immersive lighting techniques and highly choreographed scene transitions and costume changes to signify the passing of time.
Both female leads are fantastic. Thomas and Ross take to their opposing roles with style and skill, giving polarised, yet complementary, physically demanding performances. Thomas absorbs the small space to magnify her character’s dominating and overbearing personality, whilst Ross contorts her subtle frame to occupy as little space as possible, showing her character’s struggle to break through her self-imposed barriers.
Spiegal delivers an elegant script, with elements of symmetry marking her characters’ progression. The opening scene, with Ester mocked for her naïve fear of a Carrie-esque swimming pool period scene, returns at the end, braver and more mature in the face of a bloody situation more harrowing and much more imminent.
Dry Land is an excellent portrayal of the serious and consuming issues that teens face whilst tentatively balanced between childhood and adolescence. This transitory state is mirrored perfectly in the script’s balance of comedy and poignancy. Director Hannah Hauer-King leads a production tight in comedic timing, unafraid to manipulate the humorous and fast-paced rhythm with a sudden beat of silence.
Confronting the raw and unadulterated side-effects of adolescence is difficult at times, but that only pays tribute to the calibre of acting by Thomas and Ross. The play’s only flaw is that much is left unresolved at the end, with many issues still unaddressed. Perhaps that is the message of this wonderful piece of theatre: that youth is not tidy and that its ends are not conveniently tied-up for the viewer’s satisfaction.
Photo: Richard Davenport
Dry Land is on at the Jermyn Street Theatre from 3rd November until 21st of November, for further information or to book visit here.
Warning: not suitable for under 12s