My Lover Was a Salmon in the Climate Apocalypse
The graffiti-lined tunnel leading to Vault Festival is a portal to an artistic haven; inside is hazy and warm, and eclectic music drifts from different barrels, enticing one to wander in. Badrán Theatre is in full singing swing as the audience take their seats on fittingly uncomfortable wooden benches, wide-eyed at the variety and number of instruments on stage.
We are promised gig-theatre, and the soaring harmonised voices and jubilant freedom of folk improvisation is immediately transportive. Where we are going, however, no one could possibly predict. The trio introduce themselves: Fin (Rory Gradon) and Fiona (Elinor Peregrin) are a couple, soppily in love, and Sam (Elisabeth Flett) is “just a very talented musician they picked up along the way”. After exploring some innocuous fish-themed songs, the evening unravels when Fin becomes overwhelmed at the thought of his connection to his aquatic ancestors, referencing the Irish legend The Salmon of Knowledge. The band proceed to rather deftly weave Irish folklore and music with “Instagram infographics”, providing an engaging insight into the rich history and currently alarming plight of salmon (one in four kept in fish farms don’t survive to make it to the table). The audience are now swimming in a surrealist Seaspiracy. “Reach out your fins!” urges Fiona “you are all salmon!”.
The anthropomorphic audience engagement is bemusing but effective when combined with a self-aware irony at the middle-class blackhole that is climate anxiety (“Tofu farmers are exploited and the avocado mafia are literally killing people!”). Peregrin is magnetic as Fiona, her commanding voice and expressive eyes urging everyone to emotionally invest in the atrocities of the climate crisis, while Gradon’s unwavering commitment to the absurd keeps the audience hooked. Pertinent questions are asked and solutions are hard to grasp in the mayhem, but the trio provide thought-provoking entertainment on a bedrock of musical skill.
My Lover was a Salmon in the Climate Apocalypse requires a submissive sinking into the absurd, and it packs a chaotic, informative punch. The show is joyous nonsense with an evocative undercurrent of truth.
Read more reviews from our Vault Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Vault Festival website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: