The harbour at Halesworth

The Harbour, Limbik Theatre Company, Sir Alan Bates Theatre, The Cut, Halesworth, 22 February

The Harbour, Limbik Theatre Company, Sir Alan Bates Theatre, The Cut, Halesworth, 22 February

A trip to the harbour turns into a master class in surreal story telling as two folk stories are woven into one.

Sally (Sarah Johnson) dives in to the sea to rescue Beto, her fisherman husband/lover and, in the process, becomes the legendary sea creature that returns to the shore, episodically, to shed her skin before taken by the deep again.

While on shore Sally lives a symbiotic life but the extraordinary pull of the sea means that, even in the act of taking a bath, she is overwhelmed by water. Beto, brilliantly played by Juan Ayala, again and again tries to rescue her as she is pulled relentlessly back to the sea. Juan seems to express with a flick of his eyes or a gesture with his arm or finger a Latin ease of expression and communication particularly when his dialogue is in Spanish

Back in the harbour old men (Ben Samuels and Will Pinchin) in yellow oils skins spin yarns, warn of harbour expansion and, with adroit costume manipulation, characterise fish wives gutting fish - immensely satisfying and comic and no more so than when the exasperated maitre d'hotel of the fish world reluctantly gives up her end of day ritual in favour of Sally. As Sally dips her aching feet into the foot-balming water the audience experiences her sheer pleasure. We were sold.

For Limbik, simple props become startling and unexpected images, white wellingtons become flapping and gasping halibut or cod. The same boot soles transform into large fish snapping at bait, and polythene wrappers are jelly fish expanding and contracting in the sea. A ten year old, sitting next to me, chuckled, “brilliant”.

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Utterly engaging, Limbik Theatre toyed with the audience's sense of imagination and reality as the harbour came to life and the actors trawl in more than fish in a highly imaginative narration skilfully created and performed.

Sarah Moody's original score and live accompaniment on cello and vocals integrated sounds of wind, sea and sand which mixed eerily with human voices.

James Holloway

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