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When the Long Trick’s Over

by Emily Healey-Lynham

I have always enjoyed Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s work from Olivier winning Emilia to Belongings to her most recent work at the Soho Theatre: Mum. Morgan’s work always has focus and meaning and it is a joy to see another new piece: When the Long Trick’s Over.

In this new play we meet a young woman attempting to swim the English Channel for the first time as a personal challenge, the play examines the mental and physical strength needed for such a feat but also the reasons we might challenge ourselves to push boundaries beyond our natural endurance.

In this two-hander where we join the Swimmer (a phenomenal Stacey Ghent suspended from wires) as she attempts her epic journey across the Channel while being harassed by not only the weather and the tides but by thoughts of her dead sister for whom this swim is really for, and the spirit of her dead mother. Actress Shenagh Goven is on fine form as the mother who nags and undermines her daughter constantly with her views of her daughter’s inadequacy and shortcomings while making sandwiches, watering plants and singing.

The script is full of humour, with mother verbally sparring with the Swimmer, who in turn gives as good as she gets, the language does not hold back! The relationship that was unequal in life is now put under the spotlight with a chance to redeem on both sides and looks at their grief and family relationships.

As the swim progresses and the challenge gets tougher the Swimmer finds new strength in both fighting the negativity of her mother’s comments and reciting top ten lists of likes and dislikes as she ploughs on towards the French coast. 

There is a very brief reference to the first woman to succeed in the feat—Gertrude Ederle and there are also references to John Masefield’s poem “I must go down to the sea again”—from which the title of the piece comes. 

The production’s creative team is all-female; and a multi-award-winning, this is refreshing and exciting to see. Directed by Chinonyerem Odimba at the end you feel you have gone on the Swimmer’s journey with her. This is Theatre Company High Tide’s first tour and I highly recommend you feel the power of the sea by watching this stunning two-hander where every stroke takes you into the worlds of these characters.

When the Long Trick’s Over is on tour from 18th February to 10th March 2022.

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