Throw together some Lego bricks, black bin liners and a sea shanty or two and you find yourself with a show that manages to be surprising, poignant, funny and impressive – all while ultimately serving up a rather damning reflection on human greed.
Inspired by true events, Lego Beach tells the story of a small seaside community that is rather down on its luck until everything changes when a freak storm strikes a container ship and five million tiny plastic bricks wash ashore.
The INKBLOC ensemble did not take the easy route for their debut show, opting to create a piece that works on many levels with a minimalist setting.
But the trick is all in the telling, and this beautifully crafted performance transports the audience from the dark auditorium of 1532 Performing Arts Centre to the coastal town of Bevill.
Put together and performed by Made in Bristol, a Bristol Old Vic graduate scheme for 18-25-year-olds, the play is a roller coaster of intrigue, humour and sadness as the lives of the community are built up by their Lego windfall and, just as easily, broken.
Visually brilliant, the multi-talented cast weave their magic with movement, music and lighting.
Live onstage musicians seamlessly punctuate the performance with haunting harmonies and sea shanties, which together with the familiar cry of seagulls, convincingly create a vibrant seaside setting.
While Jennie Harris is mesmerising as Rosie, a young eco-warrior who the play centres on, light relief comes in the form of well-delivered one-liners from her friends, Jo (Alexandra Wollacott) and Lou (Krista Matthews).
A particularly rousing performance by Genevieve Sabherwal as Debbie the dog groomer raises spirits to the roof, only for them to sink down as events finally unfold brick by brick.
Contemporary, colourful, creative and brilliant, this hour-long performance packs hell of a punch and indicates why Made in Bristol – now in its seventh year – continues to be met with wide acclaim.
Lego Beach is at 1352 Performing Arts Centre until Saturday, July 22. For information and tickets, call 0117 987 7877 or visit: www.bristololdvic.org.uk/lego-beach.
Photos by Paul Blakemore.
Read more: Interview: INKBLOC Ensemble