Driftwood review – Pentabus Theatre (Online) ★★★☆☆

Jerome Yates. Photo: Andrew Billington

Tim Foley’s new play, directed by Elle While, sees two brothers grappling with how to deal with their father’s impending death. Mark (James Westphal) and Tiny (Jerome Yates) have met part-way (not ‘proper half-way’) between their homes to discuss the potential arrangements. There is more to discuss too, with the local Freeport polluting the sea and leaving a noticeable impact on the local environment.

Each holds some sway in the power balance between the two. Tiny has been their father’s primary caregiver, something Mark is acutely aware of, but Mark bears the wounds of a difficult relationship and the way his father reacted to his homosexuality. Tiny frequently departs from the matter at hand but can’t get away from the inevitability of what is happening. Survival becomes paramount for the pair – Tiny increasingly disappearing into myth to maintain himself, Mark disappearing into organisation – though you may question how high the stakes really are.

Photo: Andrew Billington

The conversations at the heart of Foley’s narrative feel fresh and natural and they are backed by two excellent performances by Westphal and Yates. The production, a collaboration between Pentabus and ThickSkin, toured rural venues last year and this recording was captured on the tour. As such, the use of projection within the pieces feels more directed towards a live audience than a digital one and the recording does suffer as a consequence. Still, Sarah Readman’s projections are evocative of the coastal setting and Lulu Tam’s design is elegant in its simplicity, the wooden boards of driftwood becoming the changing elements of the set.

But it’s what’s happening on the set that matters in Foley’s play. As the sea was polluted, so was the relationship between Tiny and Mark – until Foley offers us a final glimmer of hope.

Driftwood is available online until 27 March