Review: A Fisherman’s Tale

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Three Left Feet are a new theatre company made up of three young theatre makers who met at Lancaster University. Their aim is to make theatre accessible and engaging in the local area, putting on productions in various places around Lancaster. I watched their second production, A Fisherman’s Tale: Wily Wenches, Salty Sovereigns and Cursed Crustaceans (or just A Fisherman’s Tale if you’re not in the mood for a tongue twister) at the Maritime Museum on 15th December.

A Fisherman’s Tale was a devised insight into the life of an ageing fisherman and his crew, acting out traditional maritime fairy tales that he claimed to have lived himself. The re-enactments were frequently interjected with comments and complaints from the characters about the logic of the stories or how something should be acted. At one point, the cast got the audience on our feet to see who could do the best impression of a mermaid- or ‘fish girl’. It made me feel like I was in a drama class, and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

The play was set below decks of a fishing boat during a storm, with set made up to look exactly like the interior of a boat with wooden panelled walls and flooring. The small size of both the room and the audience made the atmosphere cosy and intimate, which was enhanced by the family-like dynamics between the characters. On many an occasion, the actors would acknowledge the audience or walk among us, making us feel like a part of their world. It felt like we were privately invited to witness something exclusive and special that we will never see again.

Despite being on stage for almost the entire duration of the play, the actors never broke character and there was never a dull moment. It was obvious that an immense amount of work had been put into this piece, and I applaud the actors- four university students and a graduate- for taking the time and putting on their best performance. The characters and the stories were so alive and easy to get immersed in as we found out more throughout the play. By the end, some things were still left unsaid and unexplained, making A Fisherman’s Tale feel less like a story and more like a snapshot into the lives of a group of people.

After the last story was told, the upbeat mood was lost suddenly and quickly. The fisherman, shown throughout the piece to be getting old and sick, sat down and spoke about how corporate human greed has permanently damaged the ocean. The other characters took turns monologuing about the sea and how they came to work with it. During this section, the house lights were turned off and the room was lit with smaller lights held by the cast against half-filled water bottles to imitate swimming fish. The room felt like it was underwater, and I loved the creative way that they used everyday objects to accomplish this. Though this section contrasted greatly with the rest, I think that it was necessary, rounding the piece up and leaving us on a thoughtful note.

A Fisherman’s Tale was an excellent example of what potential there is in local talent, and has encouraged me more than anything in my theatre class to get back into taking part in plays. The writing, the acting, and the production were all brilliant, and I look forward to seeing more of what Three Left Feet will have to offer over the next few years.

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