Roll up lubbers and walk those unshaven sea legs to the Puppet Barge, for Fisherman Jon is in port!

With a charmingly toothless grin and inexplicably filthy rod, Coral Bevan’s sweet and scurvaceous title character is here for one good reason: to catch a fish. And it’s his lucky day — for tonight there are plenty of them in the sea! But what starts out as a seemingly simple start swiftly switches gear, as we are transported to an underwater world where bubbles fill the air, and adventure rides the waves.

Perfectly capturing the childlike wonder of this most magical of venues, Bevan and her fellow writer-directors, Ricky Hunt and David Alwyn, have crafted a daringly absurd story of love, loss, and loneliness that takes us to the far corners of the seven seas. An abundance of puns, lude physical comedy, and some hilariously extended audience interaction showcase Bevan’s exceptional performance skills, and what starts as a playful and atmospheric character study soon unfolds with the imaginative richness of a picture book.

It feels clear that the creative stars are all aligned in the making of this show, with a gentle yet constantly active pace keeping the energy afloat from start to finish, and a tightly structured story holding the many moments of Bevan’s whimsy. Shifting between the yellow-mac-clad Jon and his rasping siren of an alter-ego, her fluid movements command our empathy, glee, and fear, with cleverly integrated sound and lighting that shifts the atmosphere from romantic celebration to climactic shipwreck and the depraved depths of Jon’s thirst-induced madness. It’s Cast Away meets The Water Babies with a hearty dose of surrealism, featuring classical storms and a very unhinged Little Mermaid.

Strong undercurrent of Jon’s quest for love, family and belonging use the silliness of the ‘clown odyssey’ format to cleverly unfold a universal story capable of touching even the sternest of hearts. It never stops playing, even during the curtain call, and knowingly pokes fun at theatrical tropes while still drawing on their essence. It’s familiar and fresh: these are clearly accomplished creatives who know how to catch the wind of an idea and take it to its furthest reach.

Fisherman Jon is a powerfully silly and masterfully crafted hour of drag, clowning, and character comedy that’s found a perfect home on the Barge. Sailing out with Bevan and co can feel like a warm bath: relaxing, safe and full of bubbles. (There’s even a tiny bit of nudity, but you don’t have to participate in that bit.) It’s an ultimately joyful tale brought to life with great skill, that expands the world’s horizons to remind us all of the magic of the sea.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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