Above the Mealy-mouthed Sea

Delightful and expressionistic one-woman show; Above the Mealy-Mouthed Sea is spoken-word theatre play about the self we present to the world and the self we try to hide. Performance poet Jemima Foxtrot guides us through three separate narratives exploring memory, childhood and what happens when you’re telling a joke but can’t quite get to the punchline. Foxtrot undeniably has both talent and skill as a writer, actor and musician, but struggles to keep possession of the audience’s attention.

As a work of storytelling, it does not quite take us anywhere

Stood upon a dirt floor, she tries to weave three stories together through the loop pedal interludes; humming, oo-ing and shoowap-ing a multitude of layered harmonies to create a soundscape to accompany her imaginative narration offering us a variety of ambience. This multi-layered aural scenery combined with the spoken-word is captivating in moments, and extremely jarring in others. The dissonant chants are sometimes a compelling companion to the text, but are gnawingly repetitive, which frequently distracts from or drowns out speech. The words conjure rich imagery in the minds of the audience, but these images cannot root itself in our minds long enough to follow the story. It is so challenging to follow the merging in and out of narratives throughout the cacophony of sounds that it was difficult to discern what was trying to be said with the piece.

Jemima Foxtrot is very watchable, playful with her audience, and appears to be loving her time up there. It would have been helpful for the audience if she had used more defined characterisation when switching between characters. As a work of storytelling, it does not quite take us anywhere – it’s more of a conceptual piece. A reconsideration of structure could further its impact on the listeners. 

Reviews by Isabella Javor

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The Blurb

‘And then the fisherman says–... and then the fish... the fi–’ A woman stands in front of a microphone. She can't remember the punchline. Fusing poetry and song, award-winning Unholy Mess return with a funny, strange and poignant play about growing up and inescapable truths. Performance poet Jemima Foxtrot takes you on a powerful journey exploring memory, childhood and what happens when we can't quite get the story right. 'The brilliant Foxtrot is the one to watch' (Observer). **** ‘A glittering show, a gem in every sense, a shining thing’ (Stage).

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