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Before Long Leave, the JMO’B boys performed Jesse Briton’s first play, Bound, to the Caccia Studio’s first live audience in over a year. Directed by Head of Theatre Studies Holly Hale, Bound intimately relates a tale of tragic maritime decline.

The play revolves around six trawlermen from Devon who embark on a last-hope voyage to save their livelihoods. The company they work for, which was once 15 ships strong now has only one, and has gone bust. In a desperate attempt to save themselves from complete financial catastrophe they take a gamble to venture to sea while all other boats are focussed elsewhere. However, their aging fishing trawler ‘The Violet’ is not the only ship at sea, and is challenged by the faster and larger ‘New Hope’.

The six are stranded on ship with only one another for company, and rivalry, suspicion, and friendships ebb and flow as the story develops. The ensemble, Ivo A-D (as Kerdzic), Max L (as John), Hugo S (as Alan), Angus A-S (as Graham), Finn S (as Rhys) and Toby T (as Woods), each play their highly individual characters with impressive finesse. The exciting contentions between them vary from Rhys’s mockery of Alan’s love of ballroom dancing, to the frowned-upon topic of Graham’s heroic father, lost at sea, and to an almost united mistrust of the Polish Kerdzic, which dissipates as the plot develops.

The Caccia Studio featured a traverse set-up, with audience on either side of a broad, catwalk-like stage that mirrored the deck and mess quarters of a trawler. At one end two blue sections, rusted by waves, rose up to form the bridge, where a raised platform allowed the cast to use multiple levels. Between scenes, singers from JMOB treated the audience to melodic and haunting sea shanties.

The audience was reminded of the sea with the constant sound of waves, which became louder and more aggressive as the play culminated with the characters deciding to journey into a force 11 storm to try and save the crew of their rivals.

It was a stunning experience for actors and audience alike, and a welcome return to the intimacy and intensity of theatre in the Caccia Studio.