Lost at Sea at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, what I love about the Scots is that they have such a strong identity and they are fiercely proud of their heritage, especially their local communities, and their language.

And so it is with Lost at Sea.

Morna Young comes from a fishing community in the north east of Scotland, and Lost at Sea was her first full-length play. Now an award-winning playwright, actress and musician, she lost her dad at sea in a fishing accident in 1989, and in 2011 she began interviewing fishermen and their families so she could use real voices to create a fictional story to honour the many who have lost their lives.

The result is a powerful piece where people who have endured the harsh realities of fishing in Scottish waters come to life through a talented group of actors. Their faces may be familiar – Jennifer Black was, among many other TV appearances, DCS Templar in Rebus, and Tam Dean Burn’s recent TV series include The Victim and Trust Me, while Gerry Mulgrew (Billy) is a regular on Scottish stages – but in director Ian Brown’s production they are members of a coastal community which lives each day with death: Black, the stoic mother of Jock, whose body was never found, and Burn, the barefooted Skipper, a sort of master of ceremonies who connects Shona (Sophia McLean) to Jock (Ali Craig), the father she never knew. Through him she eavesdrops on the ghostly conversations leading up to her father’s demise – the rivalry, betrayals, love and ties that bind – and her hunt, as a journalist, for the truth.

It’s an ensemble piece, with a chorus, and movement, live music and Burn’s gravelly voice resounding intermittently in song. The language is that of the North East, though not incomprehensible to a Sassenach like me; rather it brings out the poetry of Young’s writing, and endorses the reality of the story, while the dramatic lighting, courtesy of Katharine Williams, and music and sound (Pippa Murphy) transforms a stage, virtually empty apart from a few chairs and a backdrop of waves, into a living, breathing location (complete with a haar!).

An audio memorial ‘in tribute’ list of names of fishermen and boats lost from Moray during the timeframe of the play (1970-2012), recorded by families who have lost someone, which ends the play, only emphasises the raw emotion this remarkable production incites.

Lost at Sea is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until May 22.
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
capitaltheatres.com
The tour then finishes at the D&G Arts Festival, Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries on May 24.
Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic