Books/Films, Halesworth - Films/Festivals

High Tide in Halesworth

High Tide 2014


High Tide arrived in Halesworth this year accompanied with rumours that this may be the last High Tide festival in Halesworth, that after 8 years they are leaving for the more sexy/prestigious/practical/more younger generation/ richer Aldeburgh or Norwich.

Their arrival was immediately noticeable. The high street was no longer dominant with OAP trampers, or walking sticks, or regulars, but young in tight jeans, sneakers, mobile phones never too far from the finger or ear. The quiet market town was buzzing.


Girls Guide

Georgina, one of the cast, is staying with me. Long legs, 28, elegant in silk shirt, patterned shirt and booties,  her life in front of her, she asks questions with sharp curiosity which she attributes to her acting life. She is playful, and catches on immediately to my recent set back of the Orchard. It’s the first play I see (as a volunteer usher) and I thoroughly enjoy it. It’s a play about relationships: two girls, then 2 girls and one of them partnered with a stay at home father, the one outside challenging the other. An ingenious set using 6 strip lights, that double as a dance hall and a railway track, flashing with a credible moving tube train.


Big Meal

The one people are talking about. Written by US Dan LeFranc produced by Michael Boyd. Main stage. With Diana Quick. Moving from America this is the first European performance, so not quite fitting the High Tide remit of giving a platform to budding play-writes. Set in a restaurant, 8 characters (4 pairs) cleverly playing a succession of the generations. Food/drink – good medium both so heavily conditioned with deep prejudicial preferences. The grandmothers Cadillac cocktail, so respected and enjoyed by the young girl courting her son, is later dismissed by the same character, older now married to the son. The first meal eaten by the gauche grandfather, piling food into his mouth, we all laugh at, even applaud. By the 2nd person eating in equal silence we see the pattern: the meal is the last supper, they eat in silence, and die. A 2-3 minute meditation on that person.



Cleaver, ingenious, high energy, gripping from beginning to end.

But later I wondered what was it about – apart from the obvious, repeated patterns through generations? Any moment of peaceful creativity was broken by the conceit of each character wanting attention.



David Hare

Smart and cool suit, good looking, what may be a fop of front hair. Play writer, screen writer (the Reader). Made his name with Plenty (1978). It was the time of John Osbourne, and when in the 1970s every play involved adultery in some form or another. He wanted to explore realistic and political. Hence Plenty. Hare’s inspiration for Plenty came from the fact that 75 per cent of the women engaged in wartime SOE operations divorced in the immediate post-war years; the title is derived from the idea that the post-war era would be a time of “plenty”, which proved untrue for most of England.


He enjoys unpromising material – like aid to the 3rd world, privatisation of the railway.


Expectation least understood but most important aspect of theatre and life.


I can see his mother in his face

Excellently interviewed by Kate Mosse, who, without notes, asks with genuine inquisitiveness.



Work in progress, adapted by Nick Walker for young audiences

One man show, kids in the front row, with the help of film, he retells this story as a story teller. Good energy, film and sound somewhat clunky. The work was in progress Nick walker came out afterwards asking for comments, I gave a few (suggesting surround sound, and triptych film)

Escalator Plays

6 10 minute dialogues, scripts in hand. A fabulous Indian actor

A regional talent development programme led by HighTide,

’If you’d let me read on more I’d have given you a torch’



I saw it twice. It was my favourite. Dealing with subjects I was familiar with from OU philosophy – identity of self as defined by memory, using the story of Clive Wearing, an accomplished piano player who lost his short term memory, a loss touchingly documented by his wife, who he repeatedly greeted forgetting he’d seen her 5 minutes before. Sharp staging, with once again multiple characters played by single actors (4 in total) moving from Northern Irish to Australian to American accents seamlessly.


Michael Gambon

He was effortless – confirmed by the man next door to me who had worked with him. A consummate professional, for whom the craft of acting never showed.

Born in Dublin, his early roles and grounding as an alter boy and Precision Engineering, were his foundation. No acting school. He trained / worked with Olivier, Ayckbourn, Pinter. Yes, the greats. Galileo was the high light of his life.Written by Bertolt Brecht

Beautiful long gangly fingers.

His diminishing memory was both amusing and sad. What was that play, the one with two characters? Hard Times? Yes, that’s it.

Singing Detective – it was 26 years ago!

He spoke of having to cry to order, using the spur images such as the Vietnamese girl in the bombed street. She’s a teacher now, isn’t she? he added.


High Tide

Waiting in the main cafe area, I observe. Coloured sneakers. My leaders, Kitty and  Josh, (You’re one of the best volunteers)

I catch myself eating a sausage roll, thinking what else can I do at the same time. Ah yes, check the phone.

I nobble Simon, the organiser at the bar, and say how we don’t want High Tide to go. It’s down to practicalities, mainly the lack of accommodation in Halesworth. He is right, as the week has passed I see how little this small town has to offer, 3 restaurants, one hotel, a few B&B’s. Should I move to Norwich? Could I open a hotel here?



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