Common Ground is a rare treat

The Fisherman and the Turtle, by Pat Whymark and Julian Harries, Common Ground Theatre Company, New Wolsey Studio, July 10

Common Ground is a rare treat

The Fisherman and the Turtle, by Pat Whymark and Julian Harries, Common Ground Theatre Company, New Wolsey Studio, July 10

A story that interweaves a traditional Japanese folk tale with a true and cataclysmic 20th century event, The Fisherman and the Turtle is an intense and magical piece of theatre.

The beautifully-told story ties the strands of the narrative into a moving and uplifting whole, punctuated by moments of wit and engagingly earthy humour.


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It focuses on Takeo, a young river worker, who finds a decomposing body in the river and tends it, forming a friendship with what is little more than a pile of clothing bobbing about, caught in the weeds by the river bank.

As they talk, Takeo and the body begin to retell the tale of Urashima Taro, who saves a turtle from the spiteful taunting and torture of a group of young people.

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Thankful for his intervention, the turtle carries Urashima to an undersea kingdom where he falls in love with the dragon princess.

The real world is in the throes of the Second World War and Takeo's brother, Yamoko, is drafted into the kamikaze, the squadron of suicide bombers whose mission was to attack the British and American fleets.

His brother-in-law Kei is called up into the Japanese army, leaving his wife Akira and baby behind in the city - a city soon to be laid waste in a single, earth-shattering attack.

Led by professional actor Luke Waldock, a splendid Takeo, the ensemble work is consistently compelling. Not a second of the hour is wasted - each word, movement, musical note and gesture has earned its place in this superbly written drama.

The talented Rose Lucas, Nancy Smith, Chris Yarnell, Alfie Harries and Martha Loader played their parts with confidence and enormous focus.

Old-school theatre-goers like me have a special place on our hate list for the flattened vowels and throw-away consonants of estuary English. But this young cast spoke the language with a real feeling for its splendour.

The music, played by Cad Taylor, Alfie Harries and Will Barlow, was integral without ever being intrusive; the lighting was magnificent and the performances memorable, making this an unforgettable theatrical experience.

Lynne Mortimer

n Common Ground was founded by Pat Whymark, Julian Harries and Lynn Whitehead to give young people interested in the theatre the chance to create new work alongside a professional producers and actors.

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