Above the Mealy-mouthed Sea (3 stars)

This article is from 2017

Above the Mealy-mouthed Sea

Convoluted piece with a strong performance at its core

Performance poet Jemima Foxtrot is a talented performer and singer, using a loop pedal to build layered a cappella songs which she records – in pieces – live on stage. Unfortunately, rather like the work's structure which weaves three stories together, it successfully creates a powerful atmosphere while overwhelming Foxtrot's excellent delivery. Layers are the key to the show, but also its weakness.

Above the Mealy-mouthed Sea explores memory, childhood and what happens when you can't quite get to the punchline: with elements of performance poetry, music and theatre, Foxtrot pursues complex storytelling that is driven by her multiple skills and incisive script.

Set on a monochrome background and sandy floor, the play relies on lighting to signal changes of narrative: a retro-orange tint, for instance, highlighting childhood memories. It is a clever trick but sadly doesn't provide quite enough clarity for the overly convoluted structure. Yet it is Foxtrot herself who is the real strength of the show: her strong performance and solid writing still make Above the Mealy-mouthed Sea enjoyable and provocative.

Underbelly Cowgate, until 27 Aug (not 16), 2pm, £9 (£8).

Above the Mealy-mouthed Sea

  • 3 stars

Fusing poetry and song, award-winning Unholy Mess return with a funny, strange and poignant play about growing up and inescapable truths. Performance poet Jemima Foxtrot takes you on a powerful journey exploring memory, childhood and what happens when we can’t quite get the story right.