Ship Songs

Ship Songs at Q March 21By Jessica Beresford Scouring the internet, speed dating or spending countless hours in a bar aren’t ideal ways to find that special someone, but being a pair of star-crossed lovers doesn’t come by often. So when actor Ian Hughes found out the encapsulating story of how his parents met, he couldn’t help but share it with the rest of us. Ship Songs opened on Wednesday at the Q Theatre to a packed crowd, offering a one-man play written by and starring Hughes. The true story of how his parents met sets the tone for the play, melding in other sea adventures to create a rather salty story. His mother, a rebellious nurse, sets out on a ship bound for Canada to help eskimoes give birth. As sea tales often go, this ship encounters its fair share of tumultuous weather, which sets the dramatic, yet hilarious, action of the play. The ex-shorty street actor plays 14 different characters – including the narrator, his mother and father, a grumpy captain and a sickly sailor, transitioning flawlessly between each and portraying their different emotions, and accents, well. The highlight of this is a plea for help in Morse code, which left the audience in stitches. The minimal set allows for plenty of space to move around in, which Hughes takes advantage of with a very active performance, including one scene in particular involving a fight between the characters. Using only two props and illustrated by a projected screen, Hughes makes the set seems surprisingly full for how empty it is. What really sets this play apart, though, is not only Hughes’ acting ability, but the live music soundtrack illustrating emotions and sound effects. For this role, Hughes enlisted Don McGlashan and the Journeymen, who play a countless number of instruments to evoke the noises of the sea. This trio also interacts with Hughes to make this one-man show not quite so lonely. In its second showing in New Zealand since 2008, Ship Songs has returned well rehearsed as a bigger and better play definitely worth seeing. The play is on at the Auckland’s Q Theatre from March 21 to April 7. For bookings click here.