Based on the true story of the chart-hitting sensation, Fisherman Friends: The Musical shows the journey of how an unlikely group of Cornish fishermen go from singing shanties in their local pub to ending up on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.

Credit: Pamela Raith

The show centred around a group of fishermen, their families, and friends in this realistic story of individual struggles, as well as portraying what a community endures together. Their world suddenly changes when music management hot-shot Danny (played by Jason Langley) from London offers them a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

As soon as the curtain raised on Act One, there were audible gasps as we were transported to Cornwall’s tumbling sea with a shanty sung from a boat, ropes tugging from each angle, as lights flickered and fog engulfed the floor. Creating the conditions of the sea, which contrasts the calmness in the words sung. Swiftly transitioning to the pub where everyone is dancing, musicians are on stage, and a jolly atmosphere fills the air, immediately transporting us to the Port Isaac village family.

Sea shanties in themselves are a unique experience, and I feel I equally would have enjoyed this alone without all the high-end production value and story. These traditional folk songs tell a story within themselves and listening to the words holds so much value in a historical repertoire.

The lighting design by Johanna Town stood out, transporting us to many various locations with the need for minimal set changes. A specific element I found clever was the use of buoys lighting up in various colours, combining the coastal equipment into a visually impressive display. Continually the lighting added an incomprehensible coldness of sea air to the visuals which is appealing in its ease of simplicity.

Credit: Pamela Raith

In terms of vocals, Parisa Shahmirs playing Alwyn was ethereal in the way they pierced the silence, which was impeccable in the moments with little accompaniment, allowing the pureness of her undeniable talent to be displayed.

Although all the sub-stories are easy to follow, the pace seems to drags within the breaks of upbeat, high-energy choreography when the shanties are present, any long absence without them feels slightly too mundane, although there were some touching moments incorporated. The overall length of the piece certainly felt longer than it needed to be.

It’s refreshing to see a show which is authentic in its realism, with the infectious on-stage chemistry and laughter which is heartwarming to all in the audience. A musical with the community at the heart of it, highlighting the importance of togetherness, which is very much relevant, especially after the last few years. If you are looking for an easy-going, feel-good voyage which transports you to the small village of Port Isaac, then I couldn’t recommend this show enough. Playing now at the iconic Richmond theatre until 4th March, before continuing the rest of its UK tour.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

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