Edinburgh Fringe 2014
This play tells a story of a young lacklustre Marine Biology graduate who meets a beautiful selkie woman on a lonely cliff one day. The two instantly find connection in one another, and cling to each other in a very real and contemporary struggle for belonging. The subject matter manages to never be cliche, always relevant, witty, and sometimes even heartbreaking. With a simple staging, they use a sparse array of props with humour and imagination, and an impressive live vocal scoring, to make this narrative fully realized.
Water bottles become parents. And smoke, rainstorms, and babies are transformed out of ordinary objects through the fluid and wry acting in Lorraine and Alan. The selkie concept is treated with a joyful seriousness that doesn’t seem incredulous for a second.
In this remarkable show, all the minimal resources they have is used with impressive imagination. Four actors, two of which mostly play the two characters of the human and selkie couple, the other two sit to the side, keeping up a steady swell of live music and narrative sound effects. The two vocalists are very good at melting a simple stage set-up into the imagined backdrop of the seaside, or the humorously frustrating world of a twenty-something’s childhood home. The music is all sung live, from haunting melodies, to the spot-on impersonation of a daytime tv show that they keep up over several minutes, to hilarious effect. The sounds made often seem so much like a flawless recorded choir, it’s hard to keep remembering they are actually live.
While in the background of the story between Lorraine and Alan, these vocalists truly make the show, adding texture and depth to the narrative. The relationship between the actors playing Lorraine and Alan to the sounds and music really make this play seem like something magical, as they shift the mood deftly from mysterious and sad to bitingly witty. In one scene, Lorraine stood on a boat in the ocean, feeling its call, it was the chilling song performed that made the ocean spray exist there for a second. And then, to laughter every time, to set the scene by the foggy sea the actors would squeeze a baby powder bottle, spraying a mist-like cloud of dust in the air. The play foregrounds theatre as an imaginative exercise for the audience, and how vital that it is performed live. It is simply an amazing experience to feel your own imagination deepen the scope of commonplace objects and sounds because of this fantastic play.
Aside from humour and imaginative delights, it’s a heartbreaking play of loneliness and of longing for home. It draws an interesting connection between the drifting twenty something generation to folklore. Alan, who finishes a degree in Marine Biology and returns home to play video games in his parents’ house, meets Lorraine, a young selkie who feels similarly dissatisfied with seal life. Both Alan and Lorraine, adrift, look for mooring in one another hoping to find acceptance and belonging in their love. Never kitsch, the play explores whether love can be enough, with imaginative playfulness and depth. It is with bittersweet pain that the play explores the search for those phantoms of belonging, art, and love in the commonplace and familiar.