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Review: Mystery and connection in the lyrical Fishskin Trousers, Park Theatre

Brett Brown  Jessica Carroll & Eva Traynor (l-r) in Fishskin Trousers at Park Theatre. Photo by David Gill 5068
L-R Brett Brown, Jessica Carroll & Eva Traynor in Fishskin Trousers at Park Theatre. Photo by David Gill

Three stories that transcend the 12th to 21st century all connected by a place: Orford Ness, a wild island on the Suffolk coast. Mab (Jessica Carroll) tells of her encounter with a wild man who is hauled in by local fishermen in their net. Then fast forward to the 1970s where Ben (Brett Brown) is an Australian scientist who has been brought in to solve a problem with the radars on the island that are monitoring Russian activity. Mog's (Eva Traynor) story is set in the 21st century, she returns to the place she grew up hoping that it will help her solve a moral dilemma.

Each story is delivered as segments of monologue but as the three narratives progress they slowly entwine so that three very different stories that seemingly share only place find other connections.

Mab is a bit of an outsider but she is a sharp commentator on the people and events of the village. Ben is a nerd, for whom Orford Ness is an escape from his university campus life and Mog feels adrift, has strained relationships and low self esteem all of which lead her back to the place where she last felt connected and content.

It is cleverly written by Elizabeth Kuti with a beautiful lyrical tone, each character has an air of mystery, something from their past that has led them to this place which drives the narrative. There is also something mythical, other-worldly that gives it a feeling of old-fashioned story telling, of being sat around the fire on a dark evening.

The characters draw you in, take you on their journeys, transport you to Orford Ness.  They also become a metaphor for connection with people and place, for acceptance and what it means to belong .

Very simply staged this play rests on the performances and I was gripped for the most part. I'm giving it four stars and it was about an hour an 20/25 minutes the night I saw it. It's at the Park Theatre until 11 November.