Review: Deep, Buxton Opera House

Deep, a new play that made its debut on stage at Buxton last night, is an intriguing mixture of the ethereal world inhabited by a mermaid and the teenage angst of the here and now.

It was written by Rob Young about Buxton for the people of the spa town and was inspired by the influence water has had on the town throughout history.

His interest was initially sparked while he was an artist-in-residence at the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and he discovered one of its most famous artefacts – The Buxton Mermaid.

The resulting play was perfect for the team of talented young actors from the High Peak who performed on the Opera House stage and Rob who was watching from the dress circle must have been extremely proud.

It tells the story of Jan, a Buxton teenager rejected by his peers and unable to cope with his father’s illness.

Jan finds solace in an otherworldly voice that speaks to him from the deep following a near drowning accident in a local pond. Is he falling in love with a mermaid?

The performers were directed by Kitty Randle, who, at the end of the show, could not contain her delight and excitement at what they had achieved.

From the minute she read the first draft of Deep, Kitty says her imagination was on fire and that she could picture the various characters moving about the stage.

After four months of rehearsals every one of the young actors had embraced their particular character superbly and they all gave us a confident performance.

Mia – the mystical mermaid’s presence was created by Clare O’Neill, the artistic director of the Mad Hatters Choir. She composed the beautiful music that was performed by her company of young singers.

The simple, yet effective set was designed by Kate Unwin using plastic bottles donated by the people of Buxton which will be recycled once the show is finished.

Deep only had one night at the Opera House but hopefully the set won’t be recycled just yet as it would be great if a few more people had the chance to see it.

Deep is part of Sensory Buxton, a programme of art and events curated by Amy Sharrocks and Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust, looking at water, the environment and wellbeing in Derbyshire, funded by Arts Council England.

This show was in collaboration with the Opera House and there are rumours that it will be performed again in the town – maybe the Pump Rooms. Watch this space.

The was cast Sarah Day as Jan, Matthew Bowers, Joe Hatton, Eleanor Hibbert, Stephanie Rose Maria Hunt, Eleanor Maddison, Daisy Mellen, Emily Redwood, Lauren Roberts-Turner, Jude Sellers, Molly Soden-Freeth and Maya William. Mia’s Dancer was Sophie Botham.