Theatre review – The Fishermen at HOME Mcr

It’s always an exciting thing to attend a world premiere production of…well anything, really.

Not least when you get to see it before it hits Edinburgh Fringe audiences. Certainly not least when you’re not getting to Edinburgh Fringe yourself (although, fear not as there is plenty to entertain on our good own Mancunian doorstep of course).

And so HOME Mcr is hosting the rather wonderful theatre company New Perspectives and their pretty brilliant production of The Fishermen, until Saturday 28 July, 2018.

The play is adapted by the award-winning playwright Gbolahan Obisesan, from the much celebrated 2015 Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel of the same name, by Nigerian author, Chigozie Obioma

In summary, the story tells of two brothers in Nigeria – Ben, actor, Michael Ajao, and Obembe, actor Valentine Olukoga, who, along with their two older brothers, defy their commanding father, by secretly taking up fishing at a forbidden river.

However, their carefree capers are one day interrupted by the visitation of a ‘madman’ who delivers a terrifying prophecy, leading to life-changing consequences.

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Valentine Olukoga (Obembe) and Michael Ajao (Ben) – photo by Pamela Raith

Shown in HOME’s intimate Theatre 2, theatregoers are immediately immersed into the play before being fully seated, the lights lowered and the doors closed.

A simple set is revealed (and given the electricity of the performances by the two actors, anything else on stage would be unrequired, unwarranted and a mere distraction), sounds of river wildlife emanate throughout the space, and even a character is noted in the shadows, already in place towards the rear of the stage, sat quietly, back to the audience.

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Ajao and Olukoga give highly energetic and eclectic performances throughout the 80 minute production.

They take us through this intense tale of family misfortune in a free-flowing and essentially uninterrupted singular scene, whilst portraying multiple characters and timelines seamlessly whilst never provoking confusion.

One minute the snappy dialogue and mimicry of various family members has the audience laughing, and the next –  stunned and shaken by scenes of fear, terror and violence.

Valentine Olukoga (Obembe) and Michael Ajao (Ben) – photo by Pamela Raith

Throughout, the metaphorical light and shade in the story are mirrored, accompanied and indeed heralded by the subtle yet brilliant lighting direction.

And I should note (this is going to sound very ‘theatre-darling’ ), I have only had the privilege of seeing an actor cry on scripted cue twice in my life – the first was Sir Kenneth Branagh in the Manchester International Festival performance of Macbeth (and that was because it was a close-up on the big screen in a carpark – it’s ok, we were allowed to take in picnics)…and the second time was last night, mere feet from my seat.

Don’t miss this short opportunity to bear witness to this powerful and breathtaking performance of African storytelling. At very least you’ll have bragging rights over that lot up in Edinburgh 😏😁).

For full details and tickets, visit HOME Mcr – The Fishermen


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