A one-woman show—well, a two-hander if you count the goldfish—Waterproof is set in the crumbling remains of AquaTown! which, until its closure, was Luton’s only aquarium. There, wooly tank top sporting 20-something Laura, a former employee of the business, laments to her finned friend Toby the sadness of life in a humdrum town, one where her place of work was her only joy – even if her job mostly involved mopping-up sick.
Laura, played by Eva Sampson, is a lonely soul. The closest she gets to a romance is an imaginary relationship with a tall dark stranger. She lives with her chain-smoking nan, a consequence, we learn, of a rift in her family when she was young, which also gave rise to a slightly morbid obsession with the sea.
Teresa Burns' story is carried by a panoply of cutely whimsical methods and means: shadow and sock puppetry, crackling vinyl records, flickering classic movie clips and one bonkers dance routine. The props are all lovingly selected too: a thrift-store table lamp glows in one corner while a vintage bike laden with brown paper packages rests in another.
Magic and bitter-sweetness are both promised and duly delivered, if in rather too short supplies to make your heart glow quite as intended. But with a larger budget, you could imagine the team behind Waterproof delivering something special, and Sampson is a very likeable actress who will flourish in bigger productions than this. The fish isn’t bad either.