Theatre review: As The Tide Ebbs @lyricbelfast

As The Tide Ebbs
Pearse Elliott
Lyric Theatre Belfast
until 5th June 2016

I was expecting much from the author of ‘The Holy Holy Bus’, a play that impressed and entertained me greatly.

Was I disappointed in the premier of his latest offering?

Initially ‘As The Tide Ebbs’ by Pearse Elliott seemed slow and chaotic, two alcoholic friends, Fuzzy and Shasu, bantering about old times, paramilitary types, Shasu slick and bombastic and Fuzzy a shambles of a human being, here in his council house living in squalor but he’s proud of what he’s got, puts up with what he hasn’t got – a flushing toilet, oil for heating, an empty grate. Despite this the one room we see has become Hotel California, a place where people come and go, where drink flows and drugs are part of the party, where you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

Into this uneasy party comes a stranger, a young man with a purpose, but what is his purpose?

The interaction between Fuzzy (Billy Clarke), Shasu (Marty Maguire) and Wishy (Michael Liebmann) soon settled on opening night and the relationship between them found a rhythm. There are very funny moments as the play gains momentum, one was when the three break into the American folk song, ‘Take the Load off Fanny’, they sing well as they send it up, all the time guzzling the alcohol. As Fuzzy says, you take a drink then the drink takes you.

Marty Maguire (Shasu), Michael Liebmann (Wishy) and Billy Clarke (Fuzzy)
Marty Maguire (Shasu), Michael Liebmann (Wishy) and Billy Clarke (Fuzzy)

Very gradually the comedy turns to the tragedy of past deeds and as the three men stand motionless, forming a triangle on stage, the truth comes out, we understand what the title means and As The Tide Ebbs becomes a gripping piece of drama. Some will say too long, too rambley, I say the writing and the production is well paced and powerful.

Was I disappointed at the end of the evening? No, I was impressed.

by Anne Hailes

As the Tide Ebbs is a joint production by Rawlife Theatre Company and the Lyric Theatre Belfast and is directed by Martin McSharry with set design by Niall Rea.

More information at

Post Author: Belfast Times

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