Dumbstruck

This is a show about a man living on his own in an isolated arctic base listening to whale song. About a man so lonely he speaks his first words in months to a marine mammal. It might not sound like the sort of theatre that’s going to make your skin tingle or a rush of joy appear in your belly. Thanks to music, flashbacks to earlier in this man’s life and to a company at once thoughtful and vibrantly energetic, that is exactly the kind of theatre this is.

Some of the most dynamic sections take place during a flashback to a 1960s pirate radio station. These scenes conjure up the kind of excitement more suited to a music gig than a piece of fringe theatre. The company, Fine Chisel, composed the songs played and are pitch-perfect in evoking the era’s rock-’n’-roll and making you feel the newness and excitement of it. Yet this is not a one note tune: the performers’ musical dexterity is amply demonstrated by their use of their instruments to evoke a variety of other sounds, from the whine of a radio that isn’t picking up signals to the blowing of the wind on a cold Boxing Day morning.

It’s not just the music that is impressive. As more is revealed about the life of Ted, the whale song researcher, poignantly played by Robert Mcloughlin, he becomes more and more compelling and you begin to invest not just in him, but in characters from earlier in his life: a young researcher he worked with and his uncle, a vicar. Though Ted is at one point moved to a slightly out of character act of vandalism, by the end of the performance I was genuinely touched by his story.

Go and see this show. Really. I mean it. Go and let Fine Chisel plunge you underwater and whisk you back in time and make you tingle with excitement. You honestly won’t regret it.

Reviews by Hannah Mirsky

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Mama Biashara
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Performances

The Blurb

Award-winning Fine Chisel (‘Pitch-perfect’ ***** Evening Standard) return with live foot-stomping music, poignant new drama and visual panache. A playful and heartfelt exploration of words and silence, from biological impulses to immense symphonies. www.finechisel.co.uk

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