Alex Jones


River's Up

River's Up Oxfod Playhouse
Oxfordshire Theatre Company

Play Synopsis:

La reponse de Rolex a la demande de panamericains Airlines a ete la reference 6542. Ils etaient en mesure d'accomplir la double exigence de fuseau horaire en ajoutant une aiguille de 24 heures et une lunette tournante a un mouvement automatique 25-bijou. L'aiguille de 24 heures et regulierement les mains de 12 heures sont replica orologi directement lies; permettant a l'utilisateur de regler la montre a l'heure zone primaire, puis replique montre ajuster la lunette de sorte qu'il serait afficher le fuseau horaire secondaire. En raison de replique montres ses capacites simultanees de fuseau horaire, intitule la montre Rolex GMT-Master une replique rolex montre reference a l'heure de Greenwich - la base de choix de temps standard utilise dans le monde entier. Bien que simple dans l'execution, la reference 6542 a ete un succes, et bientot les pilotes et aussi bien les voyageurs ont ete achete la montre pour ses capacites de zone double de temps. La premiere GMT-Master selectionnee inserts de lunette qui ont ete faites d'un acrylique appele bakelite, avec des chiffres de radium irrecuperables dans le plastique. Toutefois, en raison de leur nature fragile et la radioactivite, Rolex pour les remplacer par des versions metalliques en 1956, ce qui rend les versions originales en bakelite extrEmement rare et precieux.

Produced by Alan Ayckbourn for Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, July 2002, Swan Theatre, Worcester, October 2002, Radio 4, 18.08.2008, Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company, tour, March - April 2009, two productions in Rome at Teatro Cometa and Teatro Belli.

The original global flooding play!

Tom and Sally Millington’s house is about to be flooded yet again!

Sally is worried and blames the icebergs, though Tom seems more concerned about the drunken Brummie revellers he has to sail up the Severn every weekend on his disco-boat.

But this time the water level shows no sign of retreating, and before long they’re drifting around a watery Worcester searching for the Malvern Hills.

Perhaps the resourceful Darren has made it to France with Caroline and little Sean and Jessica - but how will the cope with French toilets! The irrepressible Millingtons’ begin to realise they are witnessing the results of a global cock-up.

Join them on their poignant journey in a dilemma that pits them against cataclysmic odds in a comic/tragedy of epic proportions...

Written in 2000 for Alan Ayckbourn's Stephen Joseph Theatre; the recent flooding in the UK (particularly Worcestershire) emphasises the importance of the play's message.

River's Up Worcester Swan Theatre
Worcester Swan Theatre

Play Reviews:

Radio 4, 18.08.2008.

The Observer - Radio Choice: When Sally Millington cries: 'The water's up to the ceiling downstairs', her husband Tom replies dourly 'And my livelihood's at the bottom of the river'. In this melodramatic-sounding, but superbly realised play by Alex Jones, a middle-aged couple who run a ferry business on the River Severn come to realise the true consequences of global warming after a massive flood leaves them floating around in a dinghy, perhaps the only people left alive. Annette Badland and Peter Corey are excellent as the sparring pair in what is also a memorable love story. Stephanie Billen.

Financial Times - Critic's Choice, Radio: River's Up depicts an elderly couple bickering as the Severn overflows. Alex Jones' script start pleasantly ordinary and imperceptibly turns to nightmare as the waters never stop rising and Tom and Sally, forced into their dinghy realise they can no longer see Worcester or the Malverns, and the water around them is salt. A gently riveting story, its ecology worn lightly, beautifully acted. Martin Hoyle. Sunday Telegraph - Radio Choice: Modern diluvian fable about a squabbling midlife couple trapped in their riverside cottage by the rising Severn and then adrift on the ensuing flood in a dinghy. What starts as comedy (Tom: 'There's no sugar in this tea!'; Sally: 'Well get your snorkel on and get some from the kitchen!) promises an Old Testament denouement, 'God's shaking his head at the world' says Sally, having railed herself hoarse at today's Sodom and Gomorrah lifestyle choices. Tom, scouring the horizon meanwhile is wondering where the hell Worcester went. JH.

Sunday Telegraph: Radio Choice: Modern diluvian fable about a squabbling midlife couple trapped in their riverside cottage by the rising Severn and then adrift on the ensuing flood in a dinghy. What starts as comedy (Tom: 'There's no sugar in this tea!'; Sally: 'Well get your snorkel on and get some from the kitchen!) promises an Old Testament denouement, 'God's shaking his head at the world' says Sally, having railed herself hoarse at today's Sodom and Gomorrah lifestyle choices. Tom, scouring the horizon meanwhile is wondering where the hell Worcester went. JH.

Radio Times: River's Up was a small masterpiece. Though imagining a world ending by flood, the storyline was grippingly realistic, movingly credible from what initially seemed no more than local flooding to the final catastrophe. Portrayed through the dramatic experiences of an ordinary couple, it could justifiably be described as a working man's Titanic.

Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, July 2002.

Yorkshire Post: Few productions could be more timely and topical than this. Is art imitating nature, or nature art? There was actual flooding not far from the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, while in the lunchtime show, River's Up, tow actors play characters who abandon their flooded home and set sail on a dinghy. But surely, however bad the situation, in reality the whole world couldn't disappear under water? That's the concept floated here by playwright Alex Jones. And you have to stop and think, following so many recent disasters that sometimes the unthinkable does happen. Could this? Although the piece is site-specific to the Worcester region where it's also being stage by the Swan Theatre this autumn, it will have many resonances for Yorkshire home-owners as Jones gives his global warning in a small-scale personalised way. Caroline John and Barry McCarthy depict Sally and Tom, who sit and bicker like any couple, long married and with grandchildren. He's sulking because she didn't take him a cup of tea in bed. She says he looks like a moping walrus. Deep affection clearly underpins their arguments. They live near the River Severn on which Tom runs boat trips. In a rhythmic conversation handled with masterly timing by the two actors, she says he should have stuck to pleasure cruising and not started up a floating disco for drug-crazed degenerates from Birmingham. But in any case he can't work at the moment because the rain, it raineth every day. The river is rising ominously. Yet Sally and Tom remain optimistic and wonder whether they'll get any insurance payments this time. They move upstairs. He refuses to leave and she won't go without him. Later, they hear on the radio there's a national evacuation that East Anglia has disappeared under water. Eventually, their boat having been lost, they set sail in its dinghy. They see the Malvern Hills above the surface and aim towards them, hoping to be reunited with their daughter and her family, but every sign of land vanishes. France is then their target destination, although Sally is not sure at first that she'll like French cuisine. Fortified with tinned food and bottled water, this latter day Mr. and Mrs. Noah continue having rows as they row on. He may occasionally shout, but he is determined to keep up her spirits. He indulges her survival fantasies while she indulges his sexual ones. For grandparents, they have a surprisingly modern use of sexual vocabulary. Mostly, however, their tight dialogue remains superbly realistic. 'It takes a bit of a crises to put your life into perspective' he says as dead bodies float by. (I'll certainly say amen to that.) The playwright amusingly injects the commonplace into the extreme situation. The end of the world being nigh is compared to there being no sugar for the tea. Lynda Murdin.

Scarborough Evening News: Tom and Sally eke out a living on the River Severn, taking trippers on disco evenings on their pleasure boat. However, every year when the rains come, the river rises, eventually flooding their home. This year there are severe weather warnings nationally, so maybe it is time for the old couple to leave. Unfortunately, events move too swiftly and before they know it they are facing the biggest test of their lives. Barrie McCarthy and Caroline John are again perfectly matched as Tom and Sally, their faces especially betraying the whole range of emotions. For any budding local thespians, this is an object lesson in quality acting. The clever set is also a tribute to the designer Pip Leckenby. Although the ending as portrayed by author Alex Jones, is probably inevitable, you can't help but hope that there will be a last minute reprieve for this ordinary but likeable couple caught up in a situation beyond their control. MP.

Swan Theatre, Worcester, October 2002.

Worcester Evening News: River's Up is a powerful play with a strong idea at its core and a fantastic set, but it's not easy to watch. Set firmly in present-day Worcester, Tom and Sally live alongside the River Severn and are hardly surprised when the river, once again bursts its banks. They are staggered, however, when the floods fail to subside and engulf the bottom floor of their house. It soon becomes clear these are far from the city's average floods, and Tom and Sally strike out in a small dinghy in search of dry land. This is a difficult play because the actors are confined to a small boat throughout the second act. It makes the play static, but generates the vital claustrophobic feel. Stephen Crane and Sunny Ormonde do a grand job as the middle-aged couple. They capture the panic, and despair whilst not losing sight of the play's loves story. River's Up is not a gritty realism play where a couple bemoan their soggy carpet - the humour does go some way to divert the audience from the insurmountable despair in the play's heart. Writer, Alex Jones stands back from ramming the eco-warrior themes down the audience's throat... River's Up is well worth seeing - not least of all because the Swan's financial crisis means we might see a top-quality local play produced by them again. David Lewins.

The Birmingham Post: Tragedy on and off stage at Swan - Alex Jones' highly watchable two-hander takes a topical theme - that of an engorged river and its consequences. The Severn is in high flood, and the Millingtons, who happen to live on the riverbank near Worcester, are scared for their lives. Tom Millington's livelihood is renting out pleasure boats for river discos, etc. As the evening opens out in the Millington's besieged kitchen we hear that Tom's boat has gone beneath the water and the future looks bleak. The house goes next and as the waters continue to rise we move from a bedroom (the Millington's final sanctuary) out on to the river in a tiny rowboat, where Sally Millington begins to see this disaster as divine retribution. In Jenny Steven's excellent production we are constantly engaged with the action of this ultimately tragic play. And this is no easy thing to achieve with a two-hander, which, by its very nature is necessarily static (the confines of the tiny boat, for example). In one poignant scene after another the tension builds. In an eerie sequence the Malvern's disappear and then on this open water, which they believe is covering Europe, the horrors of thirst and starvation begin and a catastrophe of epic proportions is revealed. Stephen Crane and Sunny Ormonde are superb as the tragic pair, and together they give the play its wonderful sense of pathos, none of which is overstated. If the closure of the Swan, surely one of the jewels in Worcester's crown, follows the withdrawal of support by a ludicrously foolhardy council, this may be the last production I shall review of Worcester Theatre Company's work. The local community at Worcester - both children and adult theatregoers and actors, can only suffer as a result of such bureaucratic bungling. Richard Edmonds.

Oxfordshire Touring Theatre Company, tour, March - April 2009.

The Stage: With eerie prescience, Alex Jones wrote this play about the meteorological consequences of climate change in 2000. As he notes, Britain has experienced several flooded summers since then, particularly in the area in which this play is set - the banks of the River Severn. In just under two hours, he works up to a worst-case scenario while resisting the temptation to preach. The result is a finely wrought tragicomedy that provides laughs, tears and food for thought in equal measure. The central relationship between Sally (Nicky Goldie) and Tom (Richard Stone) is handled beautifully. Sometimes fractious, sometimes amorous, it is a believable portrait of fifty-something's caught in the crossfire of events beyond their immediate control. Through the first half, Tom seems beleaguered and powerless, a man teetering on the edge of failure, but his good sense prevails in the second half. By contrast, Sally is initially a tired sceptic, only to rediscover her joie de vivre as the two attempt to row to safety. They are both winning performances, with an easy humanity that makes everyman figures of this bickering husband and wife. Laura McEwen’s stage design is also impressive, allowing for downstairs, upstairs and upriver within the small spaces of OTTC’s run-sheet. The only snags for some may be the occasionally adult material and some mild swearing, but all in all this is a highly recommendable production. Andrew Blades.

The Oxford Times: There's nothing like going to a play in your own community — where neighbours can come together to enjoy a good evening out. And that’s what the good people of Dorchester experienced at the opening night of the new OTTC play River’s Up. They are the county’s premier touring company (soon to be renamed as Oxfordshire Theatre Company), travelling far and wide to bring several new productions every year. River’s Up is one of their best ever. Written by Alex Jones, it tells of Sally and Tom, a middle-aged couple who live on the banks of the river Severn and are caught up in cataclysmic flooding. The sparring but affectionate couple are excellently played by Nicky Goldie and Richard Stone. The serious message of the piece is both counterbalanced and made more poignant by the humour and sparkiness of their relationship. In the second half they try to escape from the flooding in their dinghy unaware that their troubles are only just beginning. It’s a powerful evening of theatre and Karen Simpson directs with great assuredness, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. A must see show. Angie Johnson.

Daily Info, Oxford: With their house about to be flooded – again! – Sally and Tom are cast adrift with a bottle of water and a tin of beans. Domestic tragicomedy of epic proportions - Alex Jones’ play River’s Up is funny, poignant and heart wrenching. It pulls the audience in with its familiar characters and setting, with plenty of laughs about the bickering of the two lead characters, and puts them in an unfamiliar context of crisis. Set in the nearby English countryside, it finds middle-aged Tom and Sally Millington facing yet another flood in their riverside home. They sandbag the house and move the furniture upstairs, only to awake the next morning to a flood of epic proportions, lapping at the ceiling. They manage to get into a dinghy, and start paddling for dry land, amidst rising waters. As their stock of food and water dwindles over the weeks, it becomes clear that that the world will never be the same, and they may be the last ones, afloat in a giant sea. Sally is in denial and Tom is trying to be strong; together they manage to keep going. Despite their uncomfortably familiar bickering (she nags, he retaliates), they love each other very much, which gives us hope at the same time as the subject matter of the play, global warming, gives us fear. Both Nicky Goldie (Sally) and Richard Stone (Tom) boast a wealth of experience with television and theatre, and this is clear from their performance. They play their characters effortlessly, with emotion and honesty. It is a bit of challenge to listen to their realistic arguing, despite knowing it is scripted, but it only brings more reality to the situation, which we are all potentially facing. A nice range of props (including a rowboat), subtle lighting and lots of watery sound effects make this interesting to watch. Kate Bottriell.