Aug 19 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆     Endearing

Assembly Rooms: Thurs 4 – Sat 27 Aug 2022
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

Sandcastles, Steve McMahon’s warm and thoughtful new play is brought to life by a charismatic cast, directed by Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir, in this Brite Theatre production at the Assembly Rooms.

McMohan’s two hander is an exploration of friendship that conveys the difficulties of growing up and the complexities of friendship itself.

Marion Geoffray and Sarah Miele in Sandcastles. Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic

The play features two strong female characters and the development of their friendship both in the past and the present – following Beth’s shock announcement that she is moving to New York.

Beth (Marion Geoffray) is a self-described misfit who is clearly trying to find her place. However, although Hannah (Sarah Miele) has been supportive throughout their friendship, she finds the news hard to comprehend and is unsure how she will navigate life on her own.

A simple set design by Jenny Booth brings instant intrigue as the actors lie in a white box filled with white paper while the audience enter. However, the opening is slightly disappointing with lots of unnecessary swearing and, although the scene is supposed to be awkward, it feels forced and unrealistic.

If the chemistry is weak and there appears to be little real emotion at this point it may be because the characters’ relationship has to be been established, making it difficult to feel a connection to the situation. Or perhaps the staging here is equally at fault as they sit on the edge of the box facing each other which appears rather unnatural.

Although the set is visually appealing, its incorporation into various scenes restricts the actors from being able to fully express themselves. At times the box dictates the movement rather than enhancing a particular scene or aspect of a story.


The chemistry between the actors grows in abundance after the opening scenes. The dialogue takes on a much more natural flow as they share their memories both individually and collectively.

The blurred timeline gives a better understanding of the friendship from the very day that it blossomed. As they reminisce and replay memories it highlights the simplicity of young friendship, and shows how people’s memories of the same event can be quite different.

It is in the scenes where they play their younger selves having innocent fun, that Geoffray and Miele work best together and that the set is used most naturally – representing a sandbox in which they build sandcastles. There is a purity to these scenes which makes them endearing and brings a great warmth.

The frequent moving back and forth in time proves difficult to follow and it is occasionally unclear what is real and what is not; making it hard to feel invested in both the stories that are told and the characters themselves.

Clarity is missing in some areas of the show, however it is a sweet exploration of friendship that does well in its portrayal of grief and growing up.

Running time: One Hour (no interval)
Assembly Rooms (Front room) 54 George Street, EH2 2LR (Venue 20)
Thursday 4 – Saturday 27 August 2022
Daily (not 16): 12:50.
Tickets and details book here.

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Marion Geoffray and Sarah Miele in Sandcastles. Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic


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