Get up and Tie your Fingers
Thurs 5th June
Town Hall Theatre, Hartlepool
Get Up and Tie Your Fingers is based on the lives of the herring lasses - independent women who followed the herring fleets. Tough, strong, hardworking women they travelled with the fishing fleet as it followed the shoals along the coast, gutting and selling the fish. It was a hard but rewarding life that gave these women the opportunity to travel and to earn money of their own at a time when independent women in any society were a rarity.
It is a tale of hardship and tragedy. Lives lost through sickness and drowning, families broken by cholera and the sea, a tale of despair and regret, guilt and blame.
But it is also of resilience, of loyalty and of hope. It is a story of identity, told through song (using local choirs at each venue on the tour, in this case from Hartlepool Sixth Form College) and reminiscences and action.
Jean (played by Barbara Marten) has spent a lifetime lost in regret. She clings to her daughter Molly (Samantha Foley) refusing to let her join a crew to follow the herring, arguing with her friend Janet (Sian Mannifield) over it. The three characters each represent a different outlook on life - Jean dour and intransigent, full of self recrimination and regret, Janet practical but full of life, refusing to let the tragedies of life weigh her down, and Molly, a dreamer, full of hope and excitement, impatient to experience life for herself. The love between these three women shines out despite their arguments and differences.
The cast is entirely female yet men are central to the women's lives - husbands, fathers and sons - they appear in the story only through the words of the women and yet are as real as the characters on the stage.
This is an incredibly moving play, beautifully produced and presented and performed, portraying a way of life and an industry that was once the mainstay of coastal communities, and which is now gone forever. You will laugh and, possibly, cry at at it.
There is one more show in Hartlepool tonight then, like the herring shoals it moves on down the coast.
For more information Follow the Herring!