Music by Long Green Jaws
Produced by Róisín O’Brien
If you’ve grown up on the coast, you’ll understand Into The Long Green Jaws within moments. And it isn’t even the tinkling metal fish, or the re-purposed razor clams, nor even the nautical paraphernalia and more obvious elements: it’s the tangibility of the sound.
Long Green Jaws, a performance duo formed of Sarah McWhinney and Fergus Hall have crafted this immersive representation of our coastal environments as meso-ecosystems, which runs as part installation performance at this year’s MANIPULATE Festival at the Fruitmarket. Blending puppetry, visual theatre, live music, textural sounds and movements of water come together to explore the microscopic levels of life, shifting with the rhythm of the tide to help navigate the spaces of the water, our impacts on them, and the intertwined nature Scottish folklore has with our coasts.
The sea has a unique ability, unlike any other biome. It still commands a sense of mystery and reverent superstition – even across contemporary generations, from the small instances of whistling, to the beasts which lurk beneath the eye-line. As an aurora-cascade falls across the scene, nautical blues and bottle greens bring the depths of the coast to life, even with the static shadow-play of ships and netting. The simplicity, though undoubtedly well-orchestrated and produced by Róisín O’Brien, Into The Long Green Jaws takes legions of glass bottles, driftwood, torn netting, model ships, and tinkling water streams and conjures stark visuals with soft, comforting colours inviting audiences into the journey McWhinney and Hall undertake.
Undoubtedly tied together with visuals, Into The Long Green Jaws boasts a tremendous sensory soundscape, and it all sots together magnificently comfortably. It’s largely improvised, and thanks to the talents of Hall’s composition and musical output of jazz, folk and chamber, there’s a deft structure to even the most original and new pieces the pair create. Like the ebb and flow of a tide, the improvisation has its merits and weaknesses – occasionally slowing the pacing below the levels of relaxing, and more dithering as the audience awaits the continuation of the piece.
And while there is no traditional narrative, there is communication throughout – speaking to audiences about how to shift and manoeuvre without jeopardising the world surrounding us. Instances of verbal communication are snippets of a talk of the sea, of this reverence of its influence and place within the world – and though never directly crossing into commentary on pollution, over-fishing or erosion, remarks on the symbiosis of it all, of our need to feed the sea as it does us. All collected from the School of Scottish Studies Archives, making for a touching enhancement and authenticity to the entire performance.
Metal fish, torn pieces of netting, and even the top of a plastic bottle all conjure elements of sight or sound – a particularly touching notion to use something destructive or discarded, the plastics, for something creative and enlightening. Gavin Glover’s puppetry consultancy works wonders in the simplicity of it all, with only one puppet which could be called ‘elaborate’ – a wirework seabird traversing the world we’ve created, gazing down at it all.
From the murk of a kelp forest, ancient and tall to the bubbling paradox of oil and water failing to mix, Into the Long Green Jaws manage to weave a texture to the sounds they craft. From the gurgles, warbles, drones, and softer whispers of the wind and sea, Into The Long Green Jaws sits as a peacefully reflective piece amongst the chaos of MANIPULATE.