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Theatre review Haunting dramas of myth and mystery at the margins of England

Fishskin Trousers

Park Theatre


ELIZABETH KUTI’S excellent Fishskin Trousers, which premiered at the Finborough Theatre in 2013, fully deserves this revival with the same cast and creative team.

It follows the interlinked tales of three marginalised and lonely people from across the centuries, all of whom are connected by the Suffolk village of Orford and all of whom are drawn by the Ness, the  village’s mysterious island.

Back in the 12th century, Mab bears witness to the appearance of the Wild Man, dredged up from the seas in the fishermen's' nets and held prisoner in Orford Castle.

Meanwhile, during the cold war, Australian radar scientist Ben is troubled by strange radar noises only he can hear while, in the most contemporary of the threads, troubled teacher Mog deals with a difficult and isolating decision as she turns 30.

The mythic tone transports us to a world of folk tales and mystery drawn from the peculiar history of England and its villages and the characters seem to share the same space, regardless of the time they inhabit.

Each tells their story in a series of overlapping and interwoven monologues, mostly delivered directly to the audience, with the characters words and their physical presence creating the interconnections between the three.

In Robert Price's production, there’s some superb and powerful storytelling, occasionally marred by uncertain imagery and metaphors and, given the theatricality of so much of the story, the staging is static at times.

The performances, though, are top quality. Jessica Carroll as Mab is spellbinding as she copes impressively with the odd historical material, while Brett Brown's Ben is awkward and comic in equal measure and his controlled balance between his character's humour and his tragic backstory impresses. And Traynor's characterisation has a lovely depth — her Mog is both brittle and loving.

All in all, well worth catching.

Runs until November 11, box office:



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