Smokies,The Studio at the Festival Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Solar Bear Theatre Company
Ramesh Meyyappan (director) Al Seed (artistic director) Neil Warmington (designer), Laura Hawkins (lighting design), Danny Krass (composer/sound design), Daniel Livingston (make up designer)

Alison McFarlane, Hilde McKenna, Brian Duffy

Running time

A story of fishers of men, but not as we know it!

Two gruesome sisters live a harsh life in bleak, remote conditions where they constantly battle the elements to make a living from catching, selling and smoking fish. While out on their fishing boat, they find a near drowned ‘handsome sailor’ and take him home to revive him, then shower him with cups tea, fags and (of course) smokies. When the horror that he is being held by the harpies dawns on the sailor, he escapes by heading back to the sea but they pursue their catch and decide to keep him for good.

Solar Bear bring superb lighting effects to accompany the expert mime and clowning in this interpretation that is silent apart from the fabulously atmospheric sounds from Danny Krass. The set of squinty furniture in smoky grey surrounded by old tin buckets, barrels, crails and of course the smoking cabinet where the gutted fish hang is the backdrop to this weird, creepy but darkly funny piece.

Brian Duffy’s hands elegantly narrate his part at the start and end creating a beautiful circular narrative as a counterpoint to the horror that unfolds. Alison McFarlane and Hilde McKenna brilliantly capture these strange skewed sirens with exaggerated movements as they plead with the audience to buy their fishy wares and sharpen knives before gutting with glee. What they lack in elegance they more than make up for in their hideously created appearance - all arse and eyebrows.

Smokies was adapted by Ramesh Meyyappan from a short story by Mick Jackson entitled The Pearce Sisters that has also been made in to a multi award winning short animation by Luis Cook of Aardman Films. The tragedy of isolation and the basic desire for love and human contact is central to this grimly comic tale. Like a dark satanic cross between the two films Ladies in Lavendar and Loving Memory, it was suitably spooky for a Halloween night.

This production is accessible to deaf and hard of hearing audiences.
age recommend 14+
Tour ended