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This Place Print is sad in lots of ways, but it is also beautiful and inspiring. It describes a really terrible event which I wouldn’t want to happen to anyone, but it is about sticking to your beliefs and not giving in and I think that can be very admirable. I am glad we now live in a world where so many different beliefs are permitted, though of course we still have a long way to go in some areas.
Where There is No More Sea is a bit like a play within a play. It’s about an actress who is preparing to play a historical/legendary figure. It must have been so interesting for Frances Grey to prepare for the role of an actress preparing for a role. I wonder how Ms Grey prepared to the role. The actress prepared by visiting the place where a big event is said to have taken place. Ms Grey probably did not have that option even if she had wanted to because of travel restrictions.
The actress in the play is performing the role of Margaret Wilson. Nobody knows whether she is real or not. She is said to have been a young Scottish girl who refused to swear allegiance to Charles II. Her allegiance was to Jesus Christ and he was her King. Refusing to support the monarch was punished by execution. If Margaret existed, she died in a horrible way. Even if she did not exist, I think it is true that many people did die in this way.
The actress goes to the sea where Margaret is said to have died and tries to feel her presence. David Rudkin has written this very cleverly so it never is quite clear if the actress really has connected with Margaret or not. At first, she seems to feel nothing. Then she’s not sure if she feels something or not. Margaret’s voice seems to come and go in her head, but it slowly becomes more powerful as the scene becomes more vivid in the actress’s mind. She imagines – or maybe even senses - the people around Margaret and the way they might have spoken to her and reacted to her. Sometimes the actress is imagining the things Margaret might be feeling and thinking and talks about her in the third person. Other times, she talks in the first person as though she has become Margaret.
Director Jack McNamara keeps background noise quite limited at first, like the place is completely silent and the only noise comes from inside the actress’s head. But slowly more background noise is added. I’m not sure exactly when it started, but when I did become aware of it, I also became aware it was getting louder. Towards the end, when the actress is either getting a more complete picture in her head or when she really has connected to Margaret (I would really like to believe it is the second one), the background noise is quite loud. The waves crash wildly. It is very dramatic and it is very emotional to listen to.
Frances Grey is really good as the actress/Margaret and also the roles of the people Margaret talks to who try to change her mind. The actress is obviously really passionate about her role and cares about Margaret’s story and wants to do a good job of acting it. Margaret is passionate about her beliefs. But Ms Grey makes them seem like different people. She makes the actress so interested in Margaret, we immediately become interested too.
This Place Print is longer than a lot of the Place Prints and in some ways it has less of a story because the actress doesn’t change, Margaret doesn’t change and we don’t learn very much new information as the story goes on, but it is still really powerful and gripping to listen to. It feels really dramatic and I felt so emotionally invested.
I am sad there are only two more Place Prints to listen to, but they are both more than an hour so at least there is still a lot to listen to.