You, Me and the Bloody Sea

Jane Howard

The Space Theatre for the Cabaret Festival was the wrong venue for You, Me and the Bloody Sea. We needed a pub.
You, Me and the Bloody Sea

The Space Theatre for the Cabaret Festival was the wrong venue for You, Me and the Bloody Sea. We needed a pub.

The kind of pub where the wind howls by outside, its salt stinging faces as they hurry inside to where bodies pack under the slightly too dim lighting. As the band plays, we want not so much as to watch them perform but to feel them. To stamp our feet and clap our hands and yell and sing along; or to tightly wrap our hands around another and softly sway.

As liberally as members of the band hands around instruments – moving from drums, to piano, to accordion; from guitar, to accordion, to piano, to banjo –members of the pub hand around alcohol. The beer and the whisky flow liberally, as it always has done, its slight grip on the floor and its old musk seeping out of the woodwork.

In this pub we listen to the four men and one woman tell us a story. And this pub might be the same pub where the four men of the story we hear would meet, before they take a helicopter the size of a bus out to the oil rig in 1975.

Through the story he narrates, Cameron Goodall frequently turns to the audience to explain: this story of money, of oil, of boats is ‘told through song’. There is a slightly self-depreciating air to this, but there is no need. Mumpsimus’s story of these men – and of a woman who waits on shore – carries us through its songs, from ballads to rock, although the work is perhaps light on the sea shanty.

The work is deeply emotive in its gaiety and its sorrow, and, finally, is a memorial for a life hard lead in a world that no longer exists. The band moves around the instruments and their voices with ease – although when Quincy Grant sits down at the grand piano you realise just how dexterous his playing is.

The Space Theatre gives us some things: the art of Andy Ellis on the projector, the slight touches of theatrical narration through costuming. But in the end, for this story there is a wish we could be somewhere more. Somewhere where these stories – and these men – have breathed the air and lived in the walls, that we might have the chance, too.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5


You, Me and the Bloody Sea

Created by Mumpsimus (Cameron Goodall, Quincy Grant and Andy Packer).

Performed by Cameron Goodall, Quincy Grant, Harley Gray, David Heinrich, Emma Luker

Imagery by Andy Ellis


Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre

13 – 15 June


Adelaide Cabaret Festival

7 – 22 June

About the author

Jane Howard is an arts writer based in Adelaide. She is the theatre and performing arts columnist for Kill Your Darlings, a critic and journalist for Guardian Australia, and has contributed to publications including The Lifted Brow, Meanjin, ABC Arts Online and ArtsHub.