A harmonious production with heaps of heart and sole.
*PR tickets in return for an honest review*
Fisherman’s Friends The Musical has dropped its anchor at Curve, Leicester and is here until 1st April before continuing their voyage toward new seas in Torquay, Cornwall, Cambridge, Bristol, Glasgow and Wimbledon.
A group of Cornish fishermen sing their traditional working songs that they’ve sung for generations and are spotted by an out-of-towner who promises them the life of fortune and fame. But for the fishermen – trust, community and respect prevails and down-on-his-luck Danny must learn there’s more to Cornwall, music and life than fortune and fame.
The show opens with the boat rocking ferociously across a misty and rough sea with the vocals setting the high standards for the unconventional musical. Jim (James Gaddas) really shone out for me here and throughout the production, he and Alwyn (Parisa Shamir) stood out for their incredible passion and emotion that they brought to their role.
The strong large ensemble makes it difficult to pick out a standout as I found they all brought something different to the table, but I did find myself shifting focus primarily between Jim (James Gaddas), Alwyn (Parisa Shamir), Maggie (Susan Penhaligon), Jago (Robert Duncan), Leadville (Pete Gallagher), Ben (Dakota Starr) and Sally (Hazel Monaghan).
On a personal note, I especially empathised with Sally and her storyline about shifting into motherhood which I’m sure lots of mothers could relate to and felt this was delivered with honesty and emotion. Though, despite the length of the production, a large cast and few secondary storylines – this felt more of a fleeting moment rather than a developing plot. Saying that, it did allow for Sally’s character to shine through and come into her own in this scene in particular after I’d found her character seemingly pointless up until this point providing little more depth than being a woman working behind the bar and often seen with her baby in a carrier.
The main storyline I felt moved at times a little too slow. There were definite moments when I felt the storyline was weak in parts and seemingly wasn’t progressing. I too found Danny a little exasperating and a cockney stereotype taken to the extreme and thus not doing Jason Langley’s capabilities justice, as the times he did sing it was fabulous and he really did show great character development come the second act. I also found the love interest rather forced and rushed, which I think reflected more on the storyline rather than a reflection or Shamir or Langley who were both incredibly talented in all aspects of the performance.
Going back to Shamir, I was completely blown away by ‘Port Isaac’s very own Taylor Swift‘ Alwyn. Alwyn was fierce and fiery and her performance of Village by the Sea left me in awe with goosebumps. An incredibly beautiful display paired with ‘down the pub’ banter which provided comedic moments intertwined in the stunning performance.
I appreciated the banter between the group, especially when delivered by Leadville (Pete Gallagher) and found the daftness of Wiggy (Martin Carroll) was well executed and a real representation of ‘middle aged blokes down the pub having a laugh‘ rather than tiresome and forced humour.
For me, the major strengths that Fisherman’s Friends The Musical had was the harmonious voices, the impressiveness of the set, the cheeky banter and a superb cast who brought the magic alive. In all honesty, I had pretty low expectations for Fisherman’s Friends with my main thought being that sea shanty’s were ‘not for me’ but I thoroughly enjoyed the singing, especially “Leave her Johnny, Leave her”, “Cousin Jack”, “Drunken Sailor” and “No Hopers, Jokers & Rogues”, so you can imagine that all in all I was pleasantly surprised. Despite the storyline being slow at points, I still thoroughly enjoyed the production and found it heartwarming and with a smile for the majority of the show.
Although mainly daft humour and middle-aged man banter, there were still elements that pulled heavily on the heartstrings. I adored the chemistry between Jago (Robert Duncan) and Maggie (Susan Penhaligon) and *spoiler alert!* Susan’s speech and the empty space that was left in the semi-circle had me welling up. I also found Jim’s lines incredibly touching when they visited Danny’s ex-manager Leah, (Fia Houston-Hamilton) and performed with their backs towards the audience.
Fisherman’s Friends The Musical is a heartfelt charming production which really amplifies the story of friendship and community with stunning vocals, impressive lighting and set design and allows for the charisma of the group to shine.
Curve Theatre, Leicester 28 MAR – 01 APR
Running time: 2h 20 (including a 20 min interval)
Age Recommendation: 8+ (there is some swearing and lots of adult jokes)
Book By Amanda Whittington
Based on the Screenplay by Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard, Piers Ashworth
Directed by James Grieve
Choreographed by Matt Cole
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