Zennor is not, as it turns out, a distant alien empire, but a small fishing village in Cornwall. My inner child briefly feels disappointed. Yet this soon passes, as it ultimately does not detract from what is a heartfelt and engaging story. The production follows the journey of a mermaid onto land and her mixed interactions with the thoroughly Christian villagers. A tale of belonging and otherness, it deals with surprisingly heavy issues for a show aimed at children, but gets them across to its younger audience successfully.
The cast is large, 12 actors in total, and sometimes the small stage space feels awkwardly cramped; it is debatable whether it is necessary they all stay on stage for the majority of the play. They certainly justify it during interesting sequences of physical theatre, however, showing much dynamism with their displays of underwater adventures. It is perhaps in comparison to these scenes that others seem quite static and bland. The play is listed as being devised, and the shift in quality from scene to scene seems to betray this more than the innovative moments of movement. One particularly hashed scene stands out in which a brother courts his sibling’s love interest. However, the scene is passed over so quickly and is so flat that it loses any purpose, and the plot thread is never picked up again. The scene either needs to be developed or scrapped altogether.
A few first day jitters have perhaps got the better of some of the young cast, but certain performers stood out with excellent performances despite this. Marcus Tischhauser in particular was very entertaining, with a commanding stage presence and good range between his two very different characters. Jude Mack as the Mermaid also proved to be worthy of the title role; her acting never faltered whether she was in command of the mermaid puppet or portraying the legged mermaid herself. However, all the actors shine when it comes to an oddly dark scene involving the taking of communion, and it is only confidence issues that hold some of them back from expressing and projecting as largely and loudly as I think they are all capable of.
The Mermaid of Zennor is a thoroughly entertaining show for all ages and will certainly only get better as its run continues and the actors gain more confidence. It is certainly a good way to spend your time, and children will connect very well with the performance. With a few edits and a boost of faith, this good show could be great.