Bethan Troakes, Broadway Baby
Don’t let the title put you off. This is not a show about fish guts or an upside mermaid but an absolutely charming tale of friendship through adversity and using nothing but a couple of perspex boxes as its set, truly was a triumph.
I left fully equipped with my new found knowledge of oysters and a sense of satisfaction having just sat through a more than well written, well performed show.
This touching show confronts themes of male depression and dwindling coastline industry in a sensitive but never didactic way and gives an overwhelming sense of hope for those facing these issues. Even for those who aren’t, there was a lot that could be taken away from this play as it promoted a real understanding of the lives of people in communities such as these.
One of the highlights of the show was when it became clear that the stage hands, who had previously been in the shadows as you’d expect, were actually going to perform too and continued to have routines that interspersed through the rest of the show. Their deadpan faces and matching suits allowed for genuine laughter as they started bopping around the stage to a well-known reggae song and as absurd as this may sound it never slipped into being just silly.
The play was broken up nicely by a pre-recorded radio show that partly narrated the piece while under the pretence of being Tom’s desert island discs, with each song choice introducing the next phase of the show. As Tom and Lydia’s relationship developed, his stance as a tough, yet struggling fisherman bloomed into a caring companion whose life was clearly being touched by Lydia’s friendship and reassurance about his life catching oysters.
Not a lot about Lydia was revealed through the main plot, apart from her new found and not so successful hobby as a ventriloquist, but her character acted as a catalyst in revealing more of Tom. They both became more and more endearing as the piece went along and even the late introduction of a new stage presence was welcomed by an audience who were beaming with delight throughout. There are elements of this show that really stand out, the acting was outstanding, the set was innovative and the story was distinct yet still surprising and as a whole it was well structured and summed up perfectly by the end. The humour was funny but also very charming and was like watching a clumsy joke and a chuckle between friends, rather than professionals who had learned a script. I left fully equipped with my new found knowledge of oysters and a sense of satisfaction having just sat through a more than well written, well performed show.