Half a Cod a Day, Company: Parrabolla
Venue: The Old Courtroom, Category: Theatre
8-11 May 21:15 £8 (£6)
In Brighton’s beautiful Old Courtroom we settled down to hear a tale of the high seas. Swash buckling pirates, the mighty kraken of the deep – well actually a story much closer to home. Written by Brian Abbott, this is the story of Hastings Under Ten Metre fishermen and their struggle to fish sustainably, make a fair living and not drown under the red tape of bureaucracy.
After setting the sea faring spirit with a rousing fisherman’s jig, the players launched into their roles. Grandpa, father and son set sail to celebrate the youngsters 21st with a few beers and some line fishing – no nets for them in such a low quota boat! But alas, under attack from a legendary giant fish they use their nets to save themselves then fall under immediate attack and investigation from the French coastguard, helicopters and blinding searchlights.
With Captain Red tape, their nemesis and the surreal representation of bureaucratic fishing law, and a lawyer twisting their words all seems doomed not only for the Littleman family, but for years of fishing to come. In an emotional appeal to the jury (played by yours truly, the audience) Sonny Littleman (Darren Cockrill) so convinced me of his plight that for a moment I thought he was a real fisherman.
Thankfully for the Littleman’s it was case dismissed as surprise witness Miranda (Stephanie Lodge) was wheeled in looking a bit Michael Jackson with a blanket over her head, and took the blame for any wrongdoing. All became clear when she revealed her sparkly fish tail and red Ariel locks, and voiced her plea not only to save the merpeople, but to save the fish, to save the seas and to save our planet.
A lot of facts and figures were flung out in passionate speeches during this performance, some of which I found got lost in translation, but one message came through loud and clear – the unjustness of the situation. These men – for it is a male dominated community – work hard and dangerous hours, put their lives at risk on a daily basis, just to chuck tons of their catch back overboard, dead and useless to all.
This play may not win any Tony awards for its finesse or execution, but I certainly came away with a lot of food for thought, helped along by the sustainable sushi provided in the interval by Moshimo. It managed to avoid being preachy with humour and music, but the message was hammered home. Half a cod a day is an unmanageable daily quota which must change to secure the future of our fishermen, and the future of our planet.
Sara Harman-Clarke - follow on Twitter @SHarmanClarke