Fishskin Trousers

Theatre, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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 (© Malcolm Crowthers)
© Malcolm Crowthers
 (© Malcolm Crowthers)
© Malcolm Crowthers
 (© Malcolm Crowthers)
© Malcolm Crowthers

One great thing about Suffolk is that parts of it feel like you’re entering the Middle Ages. Playwright Elizabeth Kuti has picked up on this weirdness and used a local myth about a wild man found in the sea at Orford to construct a brand new legend of her own. It’s a three-way drama led by a serving girl who witnesses the wild man being fished from the sea at Orford Ness in 1173. Then there’s an Australian physicist working on radar in 1973 who hears unexplained screams from the ocean. And finally a local teacher in 2003 planning an abortion following a failed affair hears screaming, not only from the sea but also from the depths of her amniotic fluid.

This is a fascinating and lyrical piece of writing weaving three monologues in different idioms – Suffolk dialect, Aussie nerdishness and contemporary RP. Kuti has a remarkable ear for detail and vivid images flicker throughout, opening vistas in her characters's accounts of mystical experiences on the Suffolk coast. And in line with a quantum theory of time expounded by the Aussie scientist, Kuti brings together past and present as though they were coexistent.

This lyrical precision is matched by Robert Price’s subtle and shadowy production on a black box set eerily lit by Matt Leventhall. Jessica Carroll moves dexterously through the murky mind of the medieval serving girl. Brett Brown meanwhile is a painfully tortured Australian geek – the eyebrows behind his specs pleading for approval. And Eva Traynor is no less precise in her dissection of her agonies during a dark night of the soul. It made me want to book an Orford B&B immediately.

By Patrick Marmion


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