Until now I had never been to the Rosemary Branch in North London, in fact I have never been to any pub theatre at all. The atmosphere was very relaxed, the same was to be said of the staff, I was greeted and served as if I was one of their friends and seeing as I was alone, this made me feel very comfortable.
When I entered the theatre space I was pleasantly surprised, as it was very intimate and inviting. When I took my seat I slowly became aware of the soundtrack being played, sounds of the sea and crashing water demanded my attention, it was incredibly hypnotic and combined with the props already set on stage I began to create my own inner monologue as to who these things belonged to, why were they there, what was about to happen etc. I had no prior knowledge of the tale of The Mermaid Of Zennor except for the information I had been able to find online.
The Mermaid of Zennor is a popular Cornish folk tale, traditionally telling the story of a beautiful woman with an enchanting singing voice. She would visit St Senara’s Church in Zennor and sing for the parishioners until one day she never returned. The legend proclaims that this mysterious singing enchantress was a mermaid who enticed a local man into the sea to live with her underwater. This Cornish folk tale has been adapted into various songs, operas and books and now into this new eclectic mix of puppetry, story-telling and acting.
The story begins with a couple embracing one another in front of the sea when they hear the sound of a baby crying. Hidden within a rock pool the couple discover just that, a baby. Going ahead some years that same baby is now a young teenager, who appears to be somewhat fascinated by the tempestuous and mysterious sea. The young girl, Imogen, played by Alice Sillett, begs her mother, Iris, played by Shelley Atton, to tell her some stories or more specifically her favourite story, The Mermaid of Zennor. This is where my attention was truly captured, they began to tell a story within the play, and it is only towards the middle of the play that you start to see how the two are interlinked. The play has a fantastic theatrical arc, the story climbs, reaches the tip of the action and comes back down towards the end with pace and clarity.
The cast worked seamlessly together to breathe life into the puppets who very quickly transformed before your eyes into characters, each with their own individual personality. All of the six performers had a vital role in this production bringing something unique to it, utilising their skills extremely well.
The Mermaid of Zennor by Moon on a Stick is truly a delightful and enchanting piece of theatre delivered by a talented theatre company and cast of actors. The re-telling of this Cornish folktale is achieved through a perfect blend of storytelling, puppetry and acting with a simple yet highly effective accompaniment of lighting, song, music and sound-scapes.
The play has many themes including that of family, friendship, love and loss, these are all very basic themes but can have a massive impact on us and that we can all easily identify with. If you want to see something different, original and visually captivating then I urge you to see The Mermaid of Zennor by Moon On A Stick productions.
Review by Haydn James
The Mermaid of Zennor
A child with see-through skin and hair that never dries is discovered in a rock pool on the Cornish coast. But land or sea, where does she belong?
‘A long time ago it would have been common place to recount sightings of Merfolk, but not now, now you’d be crazy to talk of such things.’
Taken in by a young couple the girl is fascinated by the sea and on a stormy night she asks her mother to recount one of her many tales.
Thrown into her favourite story, The Mermaid of Zennor, we embark on a mysterious voyage filled with mermaids and sea monsters, wandering curses and soul cages. A story of betrayal, belonging and ultimately love.
Moon on a Stick’s vibrant new show The Mermaid of Zennor fuses puppetry with live action taking the audience from the stormy Cornish coast to the mysterious depths of the sea and back again. Their innovative style transports you into a world where the unimaginable is absolutely possible.
Stepping into the realms of adult puppetry, this is puppetry as you’ve never seen it before.
The Rosemary Branch, N1 3DT
June 26th-28th. 7.00 pm
Friday 28th June 2013