The cast of Cruel Sea
Cruel Sea @ Everyman
By site contributor Carole Baldock
'The play makes a memorable contribution to the stage' - Carole Baldock set sail for the Everyman theatre to experience life upon the seas in the Merchant Navy.
This project has been years in the making, and finally, and deservedly, came to life tonight. Writer John Fay has movingly constructed a plot around the reminiscences of those involved with the Merchant Navy during WWII. A life of adventure upon the Seven Seas makes a man of many a lad, but is very hard upon those left behind.
The inventive, almost gym-like, staging was cleverly used to range from a sadly sparse domestic interior to the ship itself. This was excellently complemented by the lighting, music and songs (which many of the audience could not resist joining in with) and sound effects, conveying the onslaught of storms and Uboats.
Dance and Song
Perhaps most stunning of all was the use of video screens where men and women told their tales; many of the stories were horrifying but almost without exception, they were related simply, calmly and so matter of fact. Tragedy was appropriately heightened by the comic moments and comments throughout: the boastful rivalry between the young lads with brine in their veins, Sam (Zain Salim, with his excellent sense of timing) and Dicky, played by Kieran Lynn, as deft on stage as Rooney (who must be his older brother), is on the football pitch; the fact that there is a fate worse than death – living in a town not a million miles away from Liverpool.
Ricky Fearon is Dance to Nick Chee Ping Kellington’s Song; the backbone of this band of brothers. In grave contrast, as the villainous captain, he sports a curious and repugnant blue mask, used for several characters, presumably representing the unblinking face of hardhearted authority. Song himself heroically saves Paddy (a wondrously garrulous Colin Connor) and stands up for the rights of the underpaid Chinese workers. But he falls foul of Paddy’s son, Sam, when the latter believes he abandoned his pregnant sister, Kitty, a remarkably feisty portrayal by Keddy Sutton.
Truth stranger than fiction? Some truths, notably man’s inhumanity to man, are intolerable, though the true tales of heroism and loyalty count in the end. For once, it is tempting to break the golden rule and reveal the shocking ending, in order to expose the way some of these hard pressed families who had undergone so much suffering, were harshly treated by the authorities after the war.
A glorious finale to the season, by the community and for the community, the play makes a memorable contribution to the stage, and a first class introduction to theatre.
last updated: 09/07/07