Oceanallover are a Scottish based company who create site specific theatre in an array of locations. Tonight they are at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh as part of the excellent visual theatre and animation festival Manipulate. The influence for the story of Sea Hames is an incident in 1984 when two Clydesdale horses extravagantly leapt from a field in Orkney and made their way down to the beach to do a merry dance.
Oceanallover know how to get the audience on their side. When entering the venue we are all handed a free 12” vinyl record. Sea Hames is billed as a promenade performance, but begins with the audience seated in theatre space of Traverse 2. On stage are a handful of musicians all dressed up in elegant clothing and wearing white face paint. These costumes are intricate, elaborate and present a fantastical medieval look. The musicians are playing out of tune and occasionally shout what appear to be random words. The dissonance is intriguing and immediately sets up a conflict between the performers and the audience.
Eventually the performance progresses and the audience leave their seats to be taken to the upstairs foyer of the Traverse Theatre. Here we are presented with more music and dance. There appears to be no reason to stage this section of the show in this location and the jaunt around the building does not really add to the story or the music. The performers then venture outside to the entrance of the Traverse and again sing, dance and continue with the elaborate performance. The show peters out with the performers making their way around to the Usher Hall and leaving the audience stood in the freezing cold, awkwardly holding the records we were given at the beginning. The concept of Sea Hames initially sounds interesting, but the delivery did little to engage the audience or actually express any awareness of the location.