Marooned on an island that is encompassed by the sea and the tales of its occupants, we find ourselves within the setting of Rebecca Rogers’ new play, Reckless.   On this island, where locals band together for a festival to commemorate their loved ones lost at sea, we audience members quickly become aware of the fearful respect with which Rogers’ characters view their surrounding waters. However it is one story in particular that we are to focus on; that of Old Man (Blake Kubena), his lost wife (Rebecca Rogers), his son (Simon Rodda) and a girl (Alison Tennant).

Over the course of the play we hear Old Man’s version of how he lost his wife to the sea, but later another version of the story emerges through the memory of the harbour master.  Meanwhile, we witness the possessive love of Old Man for his son, Boy. It is a love which seems to pose as great a risk of drowning Boy as the sea does, unless Boy chooses to escape with Girl – a wild and experienced sailor – who comes ashore for the festival.

The Rose Playhouse, with its wooden decks, sandy banks and dark pools of water creates the perfect atmosphere for Reckless. However, the space is arguably too large a setting for a small-scale production with a cast of just five. During the moments that took place against the far wall of the beach, I craved being closer to the action and, sitting in the front row, I found the fencing between the stage and the beach distracting. A more intimate setting could have drawn the audience closer into the bosom of this family tale. On saying that, Amy Harris’s set perfectly evoked a fishing village, with the string of lights, sails and seagulls proving visually effective during their respective moments in the spotlight. Likewise, the combination of Jon Buckeridge’s live music and Luke Pajak’s sound design powerfully transported us to the shores of the sea.

Certain costume choices were questionable. Whilst the navy roll-neck jumpers and woolly hats suited both seagulls and sailors alike, the decision to dress the harbour master in modern-day business woman attire – a blazer and smart, tailored trousers – was confusing. There was, however, a particularly imaginative and memorable costume-related moment in the play, and this was the removal of the wife’s dress by husband and son, to illustrate her being swallowed by the sea.

Once we have become invested in the love story and escape of Boy and Girl, and the harbour master has revealed Old Man’s secret, the play is brought to an abrupt and arguably premature ending. In order to grieve during the final scene, I would have needed to see more of Old Man’s anguish at his son’s departure and more of the lovers’ plight at sea. Neither moment seemed to be explored to full potential and, as a result, I felt robbed of any emotional response I should have felt towards Rogers’ choice of ending.

Despite potentially being too ambitious a tale to tell over the course of an hour, Rogers’ play successfully laces a tragic love story with humorous interludes from the lighthouse keeper (Edward Bijl). Reckless brings to life an olden day fishing village, full of fisherman’s tales and love stories, fit to entertain a modern-day audience.

Reckless is playing at the Rose Playhouse until 27 September. For more information and tickets, see Rose Theatre website. Image by Heady Conduct.