The Selkie and the River God

Celtic myth and legend have provided a huge array of inspiration for painting, music, film and theatre. The dreamlike stories of spirits of the sea, fairy gods and magic can be both enchanting and thrilling, though it’s unfortunate that Lip Theatre Company’s production of The Selkie and the River God doesn’t quite live up to it’s potential.

Despite attempting to be a play about a woman who exists between the worlds of land and sea, the play really does not properly utilise its more supernatural elements.

Set in the Hebrides’, the play tells the story of Shema, a young woman said to have Selkie blood on her path to romance and, ultimately, tragedy. The production makes the bizarre decision to have the overlong first scene take place in the modern day, while its starting energy is nearly non-existent and the scene crawls along at a snail’s pace. To compound this is the fact that this scene is only referenced once again, with no particular function except to drag the play down. The quality of acting also varies greatly between certain members of the cast, while there appears to be a severe lack of direction in certain parts of the show. Actors gesture widely and often deliver long sections of text out to the audience instead of the person they’re supposed to be talking too.

Despite attempting to be a play about a woman who exists between the worlds of land and sea, the play really does not properly utilise its more supernatural elements. The majority of the show deals with her relationship with a strapping young island lad, while the main antagonist isn’t so much her dual nature as it is the scheming jealousy of another woman. This leads to most of the show not really being a Celtic tale of the spirits but instead Mean Girls in the Hebrides. The last section of the play, which should be an hour’s worth of development, is crammed into ten minutes, leading to a rushed and abrupt ending. The real shame here is that some moments show what the play could have been – whenever the mystical or supernatural enters the narrative, the play really comes to life, particulary a very moving scene between Shema and her Father is the standout, but these moments are few and far between and not enough to fully recommend this production.

Reviews by Joseph McAulay

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Passion, conflict, love and betrayal. Join Sheemah on a journey of self-discovery as she explores her place not only in the world of man, but also in the world of Celtic myth and folklore. Set on the Hebridean island of Colonsay, ancestral home of the Clans Macfie and MacNiel, The Selkie and the River God tells a story of temptation, betrayal and power. As a descendant of both Selkie and Faerie Folk, Sheemah is torn between two worlds, that which she knows and that which she is drawn towards…