The Spring Tide (review). Anne Cox watches the ebb and flow of love

Teenagers! Who’d have them? It’s tough making your way through the terrible teens and the maelstrom of emotions that have to be faced and comprehended.

Thursday, 12th September 2013, 1:01 pm
Melanie Ramsey and Anita Parry in The Spring Tide.
Melanie Ramsey and Anita Parry in The Spring Tide.

Sometimes the utter confusion of the period doesn’t improve with age. The Spring Tide, which has just has its world premiere at The Old Red Lion Theatre, Islington, is a love story involving the impetuousness of youth and the deep regrets of middle age.

It’s a powerful and engrossing story, beautifully acted, that is seldom told in English theatre – a love story between two women.

Suzy, a middle aged mum of a very troubled teenager, fell in love with Lan, when they were both 15-year-old schoolgirls. Lan was feisty, independent, and a bit of a troublemaker. She smoked, drank, and was frequently bullied.

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The rather scholarly Suzy was a complete contrast. But opposites attract and, eventually, they fall into a relationship that lasts through university and just beyond.

Fast forward to the present day and she is now married to the very person who used to torment Lan at school. The sexually repressed Boden-clad Suzy is something medical, a pathologist perhaps, with a 15-year-old son suffering serious growing pains.

Re-enter Lan into her life. She’s now a 45-year-old leather clad, openly gay woman, running a successful chain of shops but still with that spirit and ballsy attitude to life.

It’s a love story of unbelievable tenderness and warmth with all the women playing their parts with utter conviction. Anita Parry (EastEnders, The Bill) is electrifying as the adult Lan, a woman who is uncompromising, honest, and still has the ability to shock (offering drugs to Suzy’s mentally disturbed son, Lewis before, in a moment of rare maturity, demanding them back).

Melanie Ramsey’s Suzy gains our sympathy as she spends a lifetime struggling with her sexuality. She’s done what everyone, including herself, expected of her, but there’s still that yearning for her first and lost love.

Nellie McQuinn and Lorena Vila are superb, playing the young lovers with the sweetness and innocence of two girls unsure of themselves and their place in the world to come.

And Pierro Niel Mee really holds your attention as the volatile Lewis. He’s funny, unpredictable, troubled and more perceptive than anyone thinks - a tremendously well written and surprisingly engaging character.

Carol Vine’s The Spring Tide runs until September 21. For tickets call the box office 0844 412 4307 or go online