Friday, 21 October 2016

Seals and Humans - What Does It All Mean?

Rehearsal shot: Mary and Gen reminisce about their past life in the ocean

Although The Selkie Wife may appear to be about a fantasy world in which people can transform themselves into seals at will, there is an underlying, all too real, message for us non-Selkie humans.

The women in Kelley Jo Burke's play have become Selkies as a result of being saved at the point of death from abusive relationships. In recognition of this theme, we are dedicating the back page of our programme to the Island Women's Refuge who do essential and amazing work to support women who have suffered domestic abuse.

After being in a controlling environment, our Selkies understandably relish and treasure the freedom, power and independence they acquire: the ocean is a world of endless possibilities, theirs to explore.

This is why Gen cannot understand why Mary has chosen to forsake all that to spend twenty years on land with her husband and daughter: how could a dreary life in a small town compare with the power to 'call up the maelstrom, just for the ride'?

It is young Dylan who starts to grasp the alternative: the metaphor of the walkers, a couple who stroll along the cliff edge, both subconsciously protecting the other from possible danger, gives him an insight into a relationship in which each partner cares more for the other than for themselves; where they live a life of mutual support and love. 

The dichotomy Burke presents us with is that in order to achieve this deep, lovingly committed relationship, one has to sacrifice some of one's own power and make oneself vulnerable to the other person. And this is a threatening prospect for those who have been hurt in previous relationships.

By distancing us from the horrifying suffering women can endure by use of mythology, The Selkie Wife manages to convey the depth of its message while remaining positive, mesmerising, funny and uplifting.

The Selkie Wife is playing at The Apollo Theatre on 21, 22, and 25-29 October - tickets from the Box Office (open 11am - 2pm daily) at the theatre in Pyle Street, Newport, by phoning the Box Office on.    Or via our website 

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