Review: Fish Woman, Pitlochry Festival Theatre

I have so much to write about this stunning piece of work, even though it only lasted a short four minutes. Fish Woman by Frances Poet is one of the premiering poems at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Shades of Tay series, capturing a gorgeously-rounded feminine narrative.

This piece is utterly rich in story, with characters of an absolutely exquisite construction. We follow a nurse who heals soldiers and gets her hooks caught in them. She is one hardened female character, unafraid of her tough outer shell she has developed in enduring drastic change and struggle. The dialect in Kirsty Stuart’s vocals are enough to construct a tangible and warm woman. Stuart brings this nurse to life. Some of the divisions between characters could have been clearer as the multi-roling was not as clean as it may have been. These interactions, however, were nonetheless wonderfully charming. 

Frances Poet ties everything beautifully up into the extended metaphor of fishing. The language is neat and carefully selected for images of wartime healing, death and pining. The poem is set over the soft-trickling of water as people are unjustly snatched from the world or nursed back to health. I take issue with the length of this piece as I leave desperate for more. It is in no way coincidental that the writer’s name states her skill, for Poet is short and sweet. The protagonist is fascinating throughout and she reels you in throughout the progression of her tale, boldly declaring, “I am the Fish Woman”. 

The framing footage by Russell Beard is delicate and fitting. A gentle lilac river with clusters of floating purple flowers makes for a lovely backdrop to the vocals. I felt that some of the shots of sun-kissed leaves moving in the breeze are slightly unnecessary as the images of deep water seem to frame the tale of an extravagant fishing trip far better. Perhaps the gorgeousness of a lavender river Tay is just enough to satisfy me.

Fish Woman is a captivating tale entangled in the lucky haul of a large fresh salmon with unexpectedly rich themes. Our poetic voice falls in love and fails to fall in love and loses lovers and notes the events of her life which have built her. It is a tale of strength in womanhood. I urge you to shut your eyes, lay back and listen to this adorable number. 

Fish Woman is streaming now online. For more information, see the Pitlochry Festival Theatre website.