Amazing what you can do with five chairs, a table and yellow wellies – oh and six very talented, dynamic actors.
Bound, seemingly Bear Trap Theatre’s first offering, is a multi-award-winning thought-provoking piece which captivates from the start as six Devon trawler men pitch themselves against the sea and each other in a beautifully paced, evocative tale of luck, heroics and fear.
Tightly written and directed by Bear Trap co-founder Jesse Briton, this is 74 minutes of emotional storm exploring the ties that bind men to their passions, workers to their employer, sons to their fathers, husbands to their wives, fishermen to the sea and businesses to the bank.
Acappella shanties and laments are pitch perfect and although characters are somewhat stereotypical (and accents adrift at times), we really care about this band of (surprisingly clean finger-nailed and blow-dried – wish I looked that good after hours at sea) men whose synchronicity is spot-on when manning the nets and out of kilter when stuck in close confines below decks.
Thrown into the mix is Kirk (a gift of a part well played by Thomas Bennett) the Polish agency worker who is the butt of complex Welsh union man Rhys (Daniel Foxsmith)’s xenophobic broadsides and suspected of complicity with the opposition.
Company co-founder (and musical and movement director) Joe Darke is excellent as bolshie, bragging youngster Graham with much to learn while John Mckeever, James Crocker and Alan Devally convince as the bearded old timers combining commerciality with tradition (and ballroom dance).
There are no devices and no clever effects: flapping oilskins and swaying gives life to the approaching storm, stamping feet evoke the falter and drone of labouring engines while silence and darkness paint a more chilling picture than hi-tech multimedia ever could.
Funny, poignant and real – well worth catching either on tour for the next month or at Southwark Playhouse for a month from late September. (But could someone please explain to me where they were fishing given they were to be out and back before anyone else thought of leaving Brixham, and would be taking a risk sailing North West rather than turning for home)