The Wave

Summer in the UK means many things. These warm, heady months herald the start of the long holidays, filled with ice creams, sunburn, and of course, the obligatory trip to the beach. Summer is the time when Brits descend upon seaside towns en masse, revelling in the brief period in which our salty waters are a just about bearable temperature. As an island nation, we have a rich history of maritime traditions and tales, many of which have strong associations with the South West. We are the gateway to the Atlantic, the toe that dips into the great western ocean, holding with it all the possibilities and adventures of such a peripheral space. So it seems none the more apt that Bath based production company Calf 2 Cow’s new show The Wave brings to life a weird and wonderful maritime world to the forum of outdoor, garden theatre.

Created over 12 days by its company, The Wave follows three hapless pirates in their adventures upon the high seas. Sailing upon their trusted ship, Wave Goodbye to Your Sanity, our heroes battle the elements, their own temper tantrums, and seductive mermaids in this high energy, slapstick caper. With gorgeous, original compositions and songs by the actor-musicians Sam Freeman, Matthew Emeny and Rosalind Ford, along with a healthy dose of live action water fights – this is very much a ‘sensory’ experience – this is a rip roaring show for all ages.

After the year we’ve had, with so much worry, heartbreak and strain, it was truly wonderful to kick back and enjoy this barmy show. Sat in the gardens of the Holburne Museum, it was a treat to be laughing along with adults and children alike as we watched this zany tale unfold. The set is beautifully realised by the aptly named Cory Shipp, with the bow and stern of the Wave marking out the dimensions of the actor’s stage, while lurking off the stern by the audience is a stunning sculpture of a sea serpent. It all adds to the bold, childish world this show paints, and I mean childish in the best sense; this show feels like the projection of a child’s dream of what life on the sea might be like, complete with characters whose emotional extremes are as bombastic as any passionate youngster. These characters are fantastically realised by its cast, who utilise clowning techniques with utter precision to create individuals who are true reflections of their target audience – indeed, every child in the audience seemed rapt by the action onstage, which is itself, given most children’s attention spans, a triumph. The physical comedy is executed to perfection by all, with brilliant movement direction from Emile Clark, and in so many ways, it felt as if Christmas had come early with this pantomime-esque show.

This is a delightful piece of outdoor theatre, perfect for families looking for a different kind of summer activity in these socially distanced times, and one that I truly hope Calf 2 Cow will be able to extend through further touring. A salty, rum-soaked treat for the Summer of 2021.

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