REVIEW: TREADING WATER (Vault Festival) ★★★★

Treading Water, written by Kathryn Gardner, comes to the Vault Festival for a short run, bringing the seaside to the rumbling vaults beneath Waterloo Station.

Sue and Carol are beach lifeguards. They spend their days making sure the visitors to the beach stay safe. They watch the world go by while discussing important topics such as whether a Jammy Dodger or a Malted Milk is a suitable breakfast biscuit, why love is like a Rich Tea biscuit and whose turn it is to make the tea.

As they watch and wait for the call to rescue, we wonder if their own lives and loves are passing them by. Each day they see the same lone man with his dog and a metal detector walking the beach, searching for treasure, waiting for the beep. Sue and Carol wait and hope he will come over so they can engage him in conversation and in the meantime, invent a life and personality for him.

Amy Ambrose and Kathryn Gardner play Sue and Carol, bringing Gardner’s snappy dialogue alive in their bright red lifeguard hoodies, chatting and arguing as only old friends can. The stranger on the beach is played by Joshua Ruhle, his monologues to the audience are delivered with downbeat brilliance and his awkwardness when finally confronted by the lifeguards is painfully real.

Treading Water is a sweet tale of female friendship, the conversations you only have when you’re sitting for hours in each other’s company, and the things we hide from even those who think they know us well. There are moments of sadness among the comedy but overall this is a play about grabbing the bull by the horns (or the balls) and making something, anything, happen to break the tedium.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans


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