Review – Sirens, Men and Crabs – Unity Theatre

IN the prologue to Sirens, Men and Crabs, the cast proudly (and comically) tell us that they have used their time in lockdown wisely doing extensive research to bring is this story. It has been time wisely spent, because what appears onstage is quite possibly Teatro Pomodoro’s most elaborate and accomplished show to date – a surreal and absurd retelling of the Odyssey of Ulysses.

Simone Tani, Carmen Arquelladas and Miwa Nagai bring us, among other characters Ulysses, Penelope, their son Telemachus and a giant sumo crab – well this is after all Greek crabdegy…

Don’t worry if you’re no scholar of Homer, because the cast also act as narrators signposting us the key features of the story or, at least, their version of it. In case the original isn’t complicated enough they even manage to chuck in a sizeable slice of Euripedes, which seems to fit in with the general drift of the evening.

The stage is set by Lois Maskell with the flotsam and jetsam of Ithaca, all seaweed, nets, fish hooks and bubbles, with the skeletons of sea creatures arching their tails in the wings. A range of extravagant, colourful costumes (designed by Arquelladas) alternate with black bodysuits, as the actors swap roles and throw deft puppetry into the mix.

Teatro Pomodoro’s signature style of clowning has been fine tuned here by director Mark Bell into a piece in which every move and every phrase is immaculately timed. This is a gloriously bonkers shambles of a work that is hysterically funny from beginning to end, and it’s exactly the sort of side-splitting entertainment that audiences need to reboot their theatre-going.

Sirens, Men and Crabs plays three nights this week at Unity with a further date at Edge Hill University on 19th October. It will also be available to stream online from 8th – 28th November. Details are available from the Unity Theatre website.          

Star rating – 4 stars

Review by Nigel Smith