Fishermen’s Friends Review: New Theatre, Oxford

Photo credit: Pamela Raith

Before the curtain came up the sound of seagulls and the shipping forecast set the scene for Oxford New Theatre’s latest show Fishermen’s Friends.

Next a life-sized boat navigating the waves was our introduction to this close-knit Port Isaac community.

Then the wonderful singing started – well they had to really with 37 musical numbers to get through! The sea shanties were superb – you could see the audience enjoying every note – desperate to clap and stomp their feet.

Fishermen’s Friends is based on the true story of the Cornish singing sensations and the smash hit 2019 film about them. It tells the tale of a bunch of fishermen who come together to sing traditional working songs to raise money for charity.

But when London-based music manger Danny, played by Jason Langley, stumbles into the village their lives are changed forever after he spots their unique talent.

At first they quite literally laugh at him, but soon he has soon endeared himself to the locals and persuaded the fishermen that despite their combined age of 560, they could become a successful music act.

It’s no secret that the men made it big – a record deal, a performance on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, singing for the Queen, a successful film and now musical.

The cast included some experienced actors with James Gaddas playing Jim, Robert Duncan as Jago, Janet Mooney as Maggie and mention must go to Parisa Shahmir, who played Alwyn, and her wonderful voice.

We loved the jokes, the friendships, the gentle mocking of each other and the wonderful community spirit.

The lads’ trip to London was memorable – a stay in the Olde Travel Lodge, a Lobster Card and the ‘Greenpeace pub’. Watch out for the coolest multi-coloured guitar and the amazing flashing trainers!

This is a funny, entertaining heart-warming story of a community who have ultimately ensured these wonderful songs have been recorded for posterity. You get a real sense of this community’s celebration of their history and tradition; and why these wonderful life-long friendships make this community so special.

Final mention should go to the musicians who played 40 instruments between them –  they had everything from a cello, banjo and accordion! We loved the way they stood as onlookers on the quayside one minute and moved as part of the cast the next.

There’s still time to catch this show which runs at the New Theatre, Oxford, until Saturday. For more information and tickets view