Dark comedy of fairground freak show

Captain Murderer and the Morecambe Mermaid   created by  John Barber and Lisa Howard, previewing at Dempsey's, Jan 28-29 2011

Captain Murderer and the Morecambe Mermaid created by John Barber and Lisa Howard, previewing at Dempsey's, Jan 28-29 2011

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Involving puppets, masks, illusions, projections and Burlesque, the show is created by long-time collaborators John Barber and Lisa Howard in association with The Dukes, Lancaster, with original songs by John Newman-Holden, supported by the Arts Council of England.

Captain Murderer and the Morecambe Mermaid represents a collision of Maritime myth with a little-known shocker by Charles Dickens. It delves into the murky world of historical fairground freaks, trafficked and exploited by their masters, feared and discriminated against by the people who come to stare.

After many adventures, a washed-up mermaid ends up in a washed-up sideshow, the last resort of a drink-addled clown and little Tanya, his foul-mouthed daughter.

As the fortunes of the British seaside decline, the troupe are forced into increasingly outrageous and demeaning performances, while alcoholism, drug addiction and sheer desperation tighten their grip.

Captain Murderer and the Morecambe Mermaid has two preview performances on Friday and Saturday at Dempsey’s Bar, Club and Fringe Theatre, Hereford Street, Moorfoot, ahead of a full-scale national tour beginning in the autumn.