Sink or Swim is a new show celebrating 15 years of its creators Spike Theatre, and showcases a Liverpool company continuing to make some of the most heart-warming, fun and enjoyable theatre you could see anywhere.
It is all a bit scaled down compared to their last show, The Games, and seems somewhat penned in in the snug surrounds of the Playhouse Studio – but still, that claustrophobic feeling is probably somewhat in keeping with the idea behind the play – that of three shipwrecked sailors stuck in a small rowing boat after a violent mutiny, played out in OTT-style shadow before the tale starts properly.
It is a very organic production, which is understandable from a quick read through the information sheet provided – the overlaps in the CVs of cast and crew show a motley crew of talent whose paths have crossed on many previous occasions.
Sink or Swim has many things going for it, and the natural rapport between its three actors is certainly one of the best. It was good to see Shaun Mason take centre stage with as prissy, unworldly Officer Gideon Oliver ; Graham Geoffrey Hicks proved himself once more as an increasingly impressive and safe pair of hands as nice-but-dim swab hand Bottle; and Paul Duckworth was convincingly manic as the unhinged Able Seaman Jim Black.
All three worked to devise the play, which was scripted after workshop by Robert Farquhar – and although it bears some of the playwright’s trademarks in pace and style, including a particularly nice flashback scene to Bottle being press ganged into the navy – it’s the relationship between those on stage that brings it all alive. This includes the odd, presumably unscripted, fit of the giggles which only helped to make this sweetly strange little show all the sweeter. And stranger.
The three sailors battle hunger, delirium and the odd sea monster in the 75 minute tale, which is at once both helped and hindered by its unconventional framework; it is always intriguing to be entertained by a story that keeps you wondering what will happen right until the very last moment, however, to this end it probably could have been tightened up slightly in this regard.
From here Sink or Swim goes on a tour of the North West and South East, and once again Spike has created something unique, fun and infectiously entertaining – here’s to many more.