Above the Mealy-Mouthed Sea @ The Blue Room (for Fringe)
Performed by Jemima Foxtrot
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Inside every person lives a thousand stories to tell, and some people were born to be storytellers. Jemima Foxtrot has come all the way from the UK to tell a few of the stories living inside her, and she lays them out before us in Above the Mealy-Mouthed Sea at The Blue Room Theatre.
Some stories aren’t easy to tell; they get stuck in your throat, the details disappear from your mind as soon as you begin to form the words in your mouth, and sometimes you can’t face the material. You begin one tale, and up pops the memory of another, leading you down a path so divergent you lose track of where you were going previously.
We find ourselves in somewhat murky waters in Above the Mealy-Mouthed Sea, but Foxtrot’s show fractures like a prism of light under water. She sings a sea shanty and we’re taken to the windy shores of Britain. She attempts a joke but falters, gets distracted; her character splinters into a different reality, and she boards an old train of thought that keeps running, perhaps for years. She hums a tune like an old, broken record.
It’s difficult and unnecessary to try and piece together the fragments of narrative that Foxtrot unfurls. The piece is so layered with imagery and sound, her presence so fluid between innocence and authority, that we must and should step back and look at the piece as a whole.
Tonally, the Above the Mealy-Mouthed Sea can get quite heavy, though never too ponderous. Foxtrot’s girlish appearance, lilting voice and determined grin buoy us up when the events of her stories threaten to sink us. And ultimately, she’s trying to get to the punchline of a funny joke, though many times we’re certain she’ll never get there.
The poetic nature of the work allows Foxtrot to have great fun with the rhythm of her spoken word. Ts and Ps are given definite staccato marks, and her cadence undulates like a boat on the waves. She uses a loop pedal to create a living soundtrack to her storytelling, and she layers vocals just as she layers narrative.
Foxtrot’s sunny, pixie-like demeanour belies a creature of great depth and fierce artistry, and Above the Mealy-Mouthed Sea is full of twists and turns that keep us on our toes. Dive in and see if she gets to the punchline.
Above the Mealy-Mouthed Sea runs until February 3 at The Blue Room Theatre as part of Summer Nights at FRINGE WORLD.