We Live By the Sea (4 stars)

Big-hearted, exuberant tale about autism that never feels preachy

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We Live By the Sea

Patch of Blue theatre company have something quite special going on, as they've proved with several big-hearted Fringe shows in recent years combining touching, poignant stories with exuberant theatricality. And We Live By the Sea is no exception – a show that can bring a tear to the eye while wowing with its homespun stage inventiveness.

Katy lives in a sleepy coastal town with her imaginary dog Paul Williams, and she likes things to be just so – same routine every day. Her sister Hannah struggles to cope with Katy's demands, and when newcomer Ryan – a teenager from the big city with demons of his own – strikes up an unlikely friendship with the two young women, he looks set to disrupt their fragile world.

It's a show about autism, but it never feels preachy. Instead, its themes and quiet revelations about the difficulties and opportunities of the condition are embedded within a story about believable people – and performances, especially from Alex Brain as a relentlessly needy but joy-filled Katy, are vibrant throughout. There are a few things that don't quite hang together – not least why troubled Ryan should miraculously fall in with the two women – but it's a tender, moving hour of warm-hearted theatre.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 29 Aug (not 15), 4.30pm, £7–£9 (£6–£8).

We Live by the Sea

  • 4 stars

Patch of Blue in association with Greenwich Theatre When Ryan moves from the city to Katie's coastal town, they make a connection that will shake their worlds forever. Playful visual storytelling with a live electronic score about autism, friendship and a very big wave. 'Something special' ★★★★★ (WestEndFrame.com).

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