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The Deep


Anatomy Rooms, Aberdeen
Four stars

With the fishing industry very much in the news just now, the young Aberdeen-based 10ft Tall theatre company couldn’t have timed their revival of Graeme Maley’s vivid Scots adaptation of Icelandic writer Jon Atli Jonasson’s bleakly poetic one-man play better. This is no polemic, however, but a haunting internal monologue that lays bare the brutal fragility of everyday life when thrown to the mercy of the elements.

Cameron Mowat’s beautifully poised production starts off looking like a folk pub story-telling session, with actor Andy Clark and fellow performer Kevin Lennon, here in his sound designer guise, wielding banjo and guitar as the audience enter. It’s a deceptively comforting opening, with Clark’s young fisher-man sucker-punching us even more as he begins what appears to be a campfire shaggy dog yarn about his working day.

From his opening yawn, the fisher-man’s descriptions of his vividly hum-drum world are comically ribald thumb-nail sketches translated into routines worthy of Under Milk Wood. His old Ma’, the girl he fancies and the tough, weather-beaten bruisers he works besides below deck are all in the mix. The re-enactment of the final scene of Titanic is a work of art in itself. Once the tide turns, however, the young man’s life hangs perilously in the balance.

Mowat, Clark, Lennon and the rest of the 10ft Tall team have breathed enough fresh life into Jonasson’s text, first seen in Maley’s version at Oran Mor in Glasgow a few years back, for it to be able to claim modern classic status. The localised demotic is vital here to make it even richer in a production which, seen in a venue that is clearly Aberdeen’s greatest artistic secret (hands off, property developers), shows off the full potential of investing in grassroots artistic activity in the north-east.

The Herald, March 22 2018

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