It was a day of epic rain. I had actually ‘phoned the box office to check whether this outdoor production of Cargo on Leith Links would go ahead. Luckily by evening the rain had stopped, and so I was a little mystified when I was given a blue plastic poncho to wear. Little did I know that things were going to get very wet indeed.
I joined the little sea of people standing in the gathering twilight, blue-lit fog adding to the already cloudy evening. Heralded by deep booming tones a wave of actors rush from the mist, sweeping with them a miniature boat complete with stage-set lamp, bed and suitcases.
As gulls circle this is replaced with a full-sized version, a coracle with a lone girl sailor, drifting between us as she fishes. It’s clear that she is searching for something, perhaps a home or a place in the firmament for the crescent moon that she carries. But she is not the only one all at sea and the adventure is only just beginning as she meets an eccentric cast of fellow castaways and faces pirates, storms and denizens of the deep.
It’s all spectacularly visual and best described as an extended version of some of the international street theatre to be witnessed in Edinburgh, particularly around the New Year celebrations. No surprise there, as Iron Oxide have a preoccupation with street and circus performance and have contributed to previous Winter Festival productions.
Throughout there is a wide mix of live and recorded soundtrack ranging from eastern inspired, through flamenco to filmic. And regularly there is the opportunity to get wet as pirate cannonballs splash into the sea and boats are enveloped in lashing rain. Of the elements only fire was under represented and the addition of fireworks would have given the show even more fizz.
The production also formed part of the Mela Festival (6-8 August) and has drawn together a Scottish based creative team with origins in 27 countries. While the narrative might be clearer, this kind of non-vocal theatre is ideal for multicultural, international audiences and fabulous for children who can get caught up in all the watery action.
As the characters finally find their rightful places the sea of spectators drains away into the dark feeling somewhat uplifted by this little colourful island of fun, myth and magic.
11-22 (not 16) August, 9.15pm
£10 (£8) (£30 Family)