A fishy tale entertainingly and vividly brought to life
As a law student, I was particularly intrigued by the prospect of a courtroom drama concerning an inquiry surrounding the disappearance of all the fish in the sea. I was not disappointed by the Pembroke Players’ production, and while sat in the New Cellars, I could really imagine the possibility of a near-dystopian future full of genetically engineered ‘squibs’ and underground fish dealers.
Marek Horn’s Yellowfin follows three Senators, Marianne, Stephen, and Roy, as they lead an inquiry into Calantini’s possible criminal undertakings, namely possessing with an intent to distribute, of all things, canned fish. While it may seem a bizarre crime, it takes real stakes as we are introduced to a world ruined by climate change, human greed, and grieving the disappearance of fish.
Matthew Hoisch’s performance as Calantini was layered, seeming defiant and offended at being the subject of a hearing, while also a grieving and tortured man. His dynamic use of space brought energy to the interrogation, and effectively demonstrated the conflict between him and the Senators. Particularly notable moments were when he was pressured to reveal details concerning the death of his brother, with a palpable sense of pain and anguish filling the room.
The character of the nostalgic elderly politician was entertainingly portrayed by Joe Morgan, who created a comedic and entertaining Roy. Stephen and Marianne’s frustration with his constant reflection on ‘The English’ and his boyhood created an interesting dynamic between the characters, and the complex relationships between everyone demonstrated the tension that is only exacerbated in a near-dystopian future.
Alice Weatherley’s performance as Marianne represented the desperation and confusion felt by humanity in these situations. The simultaneous nature of her power as a Senator and the futility of her actions to both rewind the past and prevent the same mistakes from being made again was powerful.
Another interesting character study was in Eliza Cane-Honeysett’s Stephen, a young career politician. Her acting really brought Stephen to life in the second half, where his true nature is revealed and a more malicious and selfish tone is released. The whole cast was effective in creating a riveting story, and a complicated world in such a small setting.
Anna Henry’s lighting design was particularly interesting, as the court’s recesses were marked by intriguing and artfully layered lighting to create a serene atmosphere, which was quickly snapped back into real life with sharp reanimation. This was an effective break from the intense inquiry and interrogation, and was a repeated motif that never lost its power. The set design (Hillary Qiu) also made effective use of the space, immersing the audience in the scenes, and demonstrating the difference in power between Marianne/Stephen/Roy and Calantini.
The costume design was also well matched with each character, marking distinct personalities. For example, Roy’s bold pastel pink and khaki suit effectively demonstrated his age and sentimentalism, while Marianne’s bright red dress demonstrated her power. Elements of the production were smartly combined to create a cohesive play, where each element clearly had time and thought invested.
Overall, Yellowfin was an interesting investigation into greed, our response to disaster, and human interaction. A well-polished performance, the different elements combined really well to create an immersive experience, and built a futuristic world full of intrigue and pain.
Yellowfin is showing at the Pembroke New Cellars from 21st-25th February at 7 pm. Get your tickets here.