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Saturday, September 23, 2017


(James Cairns & Taryn Bennett during rehearsals)

This production impressed me just as much as The Snow Goose. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Adapted from the Ernest Hemingway classic by Nick Warren and produced by Contagious Theatre, The Old Man And The Sea comes from the creators of The Snow Goose which impressed me when I saw it at Hilton some years ago. This production impressed me just as much.

The story – which is a simple one - deals with an old Cuban fisherman called Santiago who has been fishing for 84 days without catching anything. Then one day he ventures far out into the Gulf of Mexico where he hooks a giant marlin. He takes this venture alone as his apprentice, Manolin, has been forbidden by his parents to sail with him and has been told to fish with successful fishermen instead. It takes three days before Santiago manages to kill the marlin and lash it to his boat. However, on the way home, sharks feed on the marlin, leaving only the bones.

Back on shore, the villagers and Manolin share their experiences of Santiago, some praising, some criticising while Manolin steadfastly supports his hero.

Skilfully directed by Jenine Collocott, the play features James Cairns, Taryn Bennett and Jaques de Silva. While the use of masks cover the facial features of the performers, leaving them to rely on the lower part of the face and body movement to express emotions, it does allow three people to play a number of characters – all with believable accents, characteristics and personalities.

This was done very successfully with Cairns playing Santiago with strong energy and credibility. Taryn Bennett gives the role of Manolin, a delightful naivety and was suitably boastful as Juan-Carlos as well as the waitress Carmen. De Silva’s main character is the youthful and charming Raul.

The stage is a simple revolve split up to create different scenes, the most impressive being a sail boat.

The Old Man And The Sea is accompanied by music written by Sue Grealy which matches the various scenes to perfection. – Caroline Smart