Monday, 23 October 2017

REVIEW: Fishskin Trousers at Park 90

The premise for Fishskin Trousers is intriguing. The mysterious setting of Orford Ness, a remote island off the Suffolk coast full of ancient myths and coastal sounds . The simple stage setting transports us straight away to the beach with rocks , pebbles and modern debris washed ashore. The light reflecting off the water and the sounds of gulls and gentle mewing from the sea sets the scene perfectly.

Into this space walk three seemingly disconnected characters, separated by time and backgrounds and we begin to be drawn into the mysteries and tragedies of Orford Ness and to puzzle over their connections. Elizabeth Kuti has created three interesting characters each with a tragic backstory . The problem is that the exploration of their stories is presented as a series of static monologues directed at the audience either seated or standing while the other two characters hold their frozen poses. Except for one knowing glance, there is no interaction between the characters or response to the stories. We are therefore left to focus on the words and delivery of each monologue .Quite simply this is not enough to hold our interest for the ninety minutes running time.

Most successful is Brett Brown as Ben , the Australian seventies PhD student from Stanford university using the cobra mist radar to track sounds from the Ness. He creates light and shade and is moved to tears by his story telling and we feel his pain as he describes an incident with his friend Mike.

Eva Traynor is Mog, the modern teacher who returns to Orford Ness when faced with a huge life dilemma having been abandoned by her husband Daniel. She works hard to convey the despair and disillusionment she feels but for the most part her story is depressing and gloomy.

The third character is Mab, the 12th century peasant played by Jessica Carroll.
Her curious period Suffolk accent begins to irritate and distract from her story ,leaving the audience to occasionally decipher some of the archaic spoken word . Her strange story which should be pivotal to the mystery , seems oddly detached from the other two characters stories when it really provides the explanation for what they themselves encounter .

This is a setting and story with potential and looked like it was in safe hands under Director Robert Price and with the cast recreating the roles their first played in Finborough in 2013 , but in the end it feels overlong by fifteen or twenty minutes and disappointing as it failed to hold our attention throughout .

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★
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