Writer: JS Fletcher
Adaptor and Director: Nobby Dimon
Designer: Richard Foxton
Reviewer: Katie Lee
The Public Reviews Rating:
‘Of all the lighthouses in all the world’ is just one of the clichés from this play that have been modified to suit the setting of a stormy English coast. North Country Theatre presents an adaptation of a JS Fletcher story in association with Harrogate Theatre, which will be touring until 8th December.
A lighthouse fills the stage as the audience enter, embodying the play’s title and location. Designer Richard Foxton has stepped in at short notice to provide a highly functioning set that revolves manually to transform the outside to a convincing interior. Lighting is also efficient, with simple flashes to denote the passing beams of the lighthouse added to blue and yellow gels for atmosphere. If a little loud, the musical interludes add a suitably sinister touch to scene changes.
A highlight of the first half is a comedy sequence involving several hats. The audience are transported from the souks of Cairo to the Arctic wastes via Peru, where a harem of virgin wives awaits them. A mirror sequence revisits the same destinations with a different series of hats, with both ending in the backstreets of Barnsley. A simple storytelling tool turned into a farcical progression, this section brought about several laughs.
The versatile writer and director Nobby Dimon also plays the Lighthouse Keeper; a problematic, control-freak character who even catalogues his own wife’s death in a logbook. He opens the second half by leading a hilarious scene depicting a religious service to people behind two doors. A sung prayer with a three part harmony is a lovely touch to set the tone that is immediately undermined by the absurdity of the situation.
The performance comes into its own after the interval, with a quickening in pace and important plot revelations. The play is ultimately centred on the female characters that form the crux of the dramatic tension. Vivienne Garnet is flexible in her performance as two versions of the same character, Mrs Cornish, while also embodying a Selkie. This legendary creature which is half human, half seal, plays a siren-like role in the destruction of certain characters and adds a mythical depth to the text.
This play explores the notion of truth using comedy as a vehicle, highlighting the idea of an ‘unreliable narrator’ commenting on how stories are passed on, changing and evolving based less and less on concrete facts.