Lost at Sea @ His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen - Duncan Harley Reviews

“Ask not the price of fish, for it is measured in men’s lives” runs the old adage and even today fishermen in the UK are exposed to an accident rate several times that of construction workers. Many fatalities are attributed to men going overboard. Often no burial is possible and the bereaved are left without closure.
As a troubling take on the ultimate price of fish, Lost at Sea scores highly. The best in writing often comes from personal experience and playwright Morna Young’s pedigree includes a father swept from the deck of the trawler Ardent II in 1989 and with only the ocean for a grave.

In this new and important play Sofia McLean plays Shona, a young journalist, returning to her roots and determined to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of her dad, Jock. Played ably by Ali Craig, Jock has died some decades previous to the action and those who saw him swept away are loath to speak of the dead.

At the heart of the matter, alongside the mystery that surrounds the death of Ali Craig’s Jock, is the small matter of fishing quotas and the need for cash to maintain the families and the often-fragile communities who have learned through the centuries to take grief and loss squarely on the jaw.
The action takes place against a backdrop of rolling waves and the simple set triples as deck, pub and hearth. Man, versus ocean is a central theme and the action is played out in ballad, poem and story.

Loss and anguish feature throughout. ‘He went over the side and that was it … man versus the ocean, who’s going to win that … eight men died tonight, eight widows and fourteen children’.
Indeed ‘The reek of diesel, the smell of fish and the stink of money’ haunt this raw and darkly humorous production.

So called Slipper Skippers – those selling quota’s as a commodity - come in for verbal evisceration as do boat owners who push the boundaries of health and safety and, in the final scene, the awful toll of the cruel sea becomes all too clear as the names of the post 1945 dead of the Moray Firth fishing industry are recalled in their entirety.

All in all, Lost at Sea is a celebration of those, mainly men, who go out to fetch the silver harvest and those others, mainly female, who await their return.

Directed by Ian Brown and written by Morna Young, Lost at Sea plays @ HMT Aberdeen until Saturday 11 May

Words (c) Duncan Harley / Images (c) Mihaela Bodlovic
Tickets from Aberdeen Performing Arts Tel: 01224- 641122

Star rating: 4.5 out of 5

Duncan Harley is the author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire and the recently released The Little History of Aberdeenshire. Both titles are available from Amazon


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