Nelson: The Sailor's Story

Nicholas Collett Productions

ZOO

From 07 August 2015 to 31 August 2015

Rating: ***

Review by Graeme Strachan

What would Nelson do? Probably kick some Frenchies up le derrière! A good old-fashioned bit of British patriotic flag-waving never did anyone any harm!

And if that was all that was going on in Nicholas Collett's solo show, ostensibly about the battles of the famed sea commander and hero of Trafalgar, then it'd still be an entertaining show.

But there's a lot more going on under the old bicorn hat, as the play gives us the point of view from the spirit of Nelson, peering out of his statue upon his column in the wee hours of new years day. He recounts some of the better known parts of his military career, with added flavour from various sailors and crew of differing rank; as well the occasional interjection from a homeless man sitting below the monument.

The result is a story of what it meant to be a sailor in the Navy, and the horror and the bravery of it all, combined with some fascinating historical and technical detail but unfortunately, not quite enough personality.

The many different voices and necessitated minor changes of costume and position around the stage act against the whole, as the embarrassment of riches leads to a dilution of the ever clearer point of the narrative.

Ultimately it could be interpreted that this idealised Nelson may indeed simply be the imaginings of the homeless man, who himself has a story to tell but it all comes too late into the hour, and as a result, the whole is too fragmentary to really have the full impact which it should, and indeed could have had.

It's still a finely acted piece, which will be of great interest to people keen for some historical fact in their Fringe; one that delivers but does not surpass it's own promise.