Produced and presented casually with a simple setting, this agitprop community play about fishing laws is one of the first times I’ve heard a coherent argument against EU legislation.
All in all, though this might not win any theatre awards, it does present an interesting case about the plight of ‘the little man’ in European Law
The play is split down the middle into two distinct halves. First, we are introduced to three generations of Hastings’ fishermen, the Grandfather, Father and Son of the Littleman family. We learn about their livelihood and about how EU rules and quotas have affected their fishing routines since they were introduced. We follow them on a night fishing for the son’s 21st birthday and witness an almost comically 2D, villainous French Naval officer, Captain Redtape, played by Stephanie Lodge, board the boat in French waters.
After an interval where sustainably sourced sushi is handed around the audience, we are launched straight into a court case about the boarding. The Father, commendably played by Darren Cockrill, argues the case for the fisherman against the captain of the French vessel.
This did not really come across as a piece of theatre, but felt more like a university lecture presented by an overly enthusiastic group of tutors. This feeling is reinforced by the venue, a lecture theatre with house lights up throughout the production. After a while, this bombardment of fact could very easily put off a casual theatre-goer, with the production’s intention to educate rather than entertain.
The storyline has its merits and performs the purpose of getting the information across, but it was so skewed in trying to making the audience feeling sympathy for the fisherman that the piece became rather two dimensional. Captain Redtape was a good example of this. She was a villain ‘fighting for bureaucracy’ which, as well as being indecipherable speaking through a megaphone, made the EU legislation seem imposed purely to attack the small fishermen. To me, this almost undermined the argument of the piece because there was no balance to the production, seeming a little bit over the top.
All in all, though this might not win any theatre awards, it does present an interesting case about the plight of ‘the little man’ in European Law; more of a very fun lecture, than a piece of riveting theatre.