Sea Changes, the latest production from Leith’s Citadel Arts Group, had its premier at Leith Dockers Club tonight (also on at 7.30pm on Thursday 13th June and 2pm Friday 14th June).
As with previous productions, Citadel Arts Group have worked with men and women who were willing to share their memories and stories, in this case of working on the SS Explorer, Scotland’s first custom built, steam powered fisheries research vessel, which is currently moored in Leith and undergoing a programme of restoration. These memories have been put together in a book, which was also launched tonight, as well as being the inspiration for Sea Changes, written by Jim Brown.
The five cast members – Charlie West, David Magowan, Chris Alexander, Charles Donnelly, and Gregor Davidson – together with musicians Laure Paterson and Al Clement, brought the characters vividly to life, with a great deal of warmth and humour along the way. After a short prologue where the characters met up again for the first time in many years in a Leith pub, we were then taken back to life on the SS Explorer in the 1970s where young Sean, who had just been released from jail and was finishing off his sentence as a crew member, joined the other older and much more experienced crew members. While the others made comments like, “The Explorer became my hame, my family”, “I came from a family of trawlermen”, and “I ken my place in life”, Sean certainly didn’t find life at sea to be much fun, certainly to start with. As we spent time on board the SS Explorer, we also learned along the way about some of the research being undertaken by the scientists on board, as well as the cook’s little sideline in supplying fish to hotels!
As well as being great entertainment in itself, Sea Changes provides a reminder of the importance of preserving Scotland’s heritage for the education of future generations.
More information is available at www.citadelartsgroup.co.uk and www.ssexplorer.org
Review by Lisa Sibbald