Salmon, VAULT Festival

Image result for swimming salmon

by Evangeline Cullingworth

Angus’ dog died last week. Dain was his best friend. It’s like one day it was there, and the next it wasn’t. I mean, nothing is really making much sense lately.

Angus is charming and comfortable in his direct address, and immediately draws us in as he paints the world around him from the nest of his chaotic bedroom. Wading through empty cans and kicking a flat football aside, he is engrossing in the quotidian details that build a fascinating portrait of life for young people in increasingly-struggling areas. Angus has been spending a lot of time in his bedroom since Dain died, but he tells us all about the time they would spend fishing for salmon. He tells us a lot about salmon, he’s fascinated by them. He memorized the entire Wikipedia page for salmon to read to Dain while they sat by the water.

Salmon captures a unique voice, an existence of racing between slow, rural life and hedonistic nights on the main land. “Yous don’t remember you have a dead dog when your head’s in the clouds, do ya?” Angus feels trapped, swimming against the current, dreaming of open waters but knowing someone’s just going to hook him anyway. The play also features two performers who play multiple characters in Angus’ life, and although they swim through the roles with great detail and craft, the split staging device detracts from the vivid portrait of Angus. The use of interjecting dialogue is effective in demonstrating how grief can cut through relationships, but ultimately the more abstract moments stick out and distracted from the tender naturalism.

The smart revelation at the core of this story is at its most powerful when the audience comes to it in our own time, and is weakened somewhat by a peripheral character explaining it to us in an otherwise beautifully constructed ending. Salmon has an incredibly important and powerful message, but its clarity is muddled by an array of theatrical devices. But Eve and Sea Productions have a strong vision and are an adventurous ensemble telling stories with great heart behind them.

Salmon runs through 14 February.

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