Thursday, 29 September 2016

Selkies and Humans

Selkie by Caroline Emerick 2013

Despite its ‘otherworldly’ subject matter, ‘The Selkie Wife’ deals with all too human dilemmas.

An amusing subplot shows the effect a handsome young man, particularly one whose knowledge of social morality is loose, has on an impressionable teenage girl; fathers of young girls will fully sympathise with Cal as he tries vainly to protect his daughter’s honour and her ‘peanut butter virginity’.

A more serious central image is that of ‘the walkers’: couples who unconsciously give mutual physical protection as they walk along the cliff edge, because, as Mary explains to Dylan, if something bad should happen, each wants to look after the other: ‘they’d rather be dead than the one left behind’.

This idea of loving someone else more than oneself is contrasted with the Selkie life of individual freedom: attractive to anyone who has been abused and denied freedom, as the women in the play have: the fear of making oneself vulnerable to more hurt by falling in love again is implicit in the character of Gen, who struggles to understand why Mary has made a life on land with Cal.

Striking, funny, heart-rending and beautifully written, ‘The Selkie Wife’ also gives the audience much to ponder.

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