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We’re excited to be hosting one of the first performances of a new play next month, exploring one of the most infamous crimes in the Island’s modern history. 

Award-Winning production company Deadman are creating a new piece of theatre exploring the convictions of The Freshwater Five.

10 years on from the original convictions The Freshwater Five recounts the tale of five men caught up in one of the biggest drug busts in Isle of Wight history. Beginning on the eve of the 2021 appeal, Isle of Wight-born playwright Liam Patrick Harrison’s stageplay is a detailed and rich theatrical investigation into the men’s tragic downfall.

Through spectacular storytelling, verbatim accounts and inventive stagecraft the island-based cast explores historic precedent, maritime mythology, the British justice system and stories sunken/unspoken within coastal communities.

The Freshwater Five is a regional research and developed project funded by Arts Council England & The Mike Howley Trust. Supported by The Quay Arts Centre (where is it also being performed) & Ventnor Exchange. 

Explaining what drew him the the project Director Samuel Bossman explains “Whilst working as a bike courier I learnt to love listening to long podcasts. The day I stumbled across The Guardian’s 5-part podcast regarding this case nicknamed ‘The Freshwater 5’ I was just happy to fill another 5 hours.

When I realised that it was set and about an IOW story I was shocked but also weirdly proud that the esteemed Guardian actually even knew that Freshwater existed. It was clear as I was listening to it that this story was incredible on a few different levels, its cultural significance for coastal communities, its place in IOW history as well as the real tragic family story. We hope that this iconic IOW story can tell us something about who we are here on the Island and but also the wider, bigger narratives of society”

Playwright Liam Patrick Harrison added: “We are immensely proud to have the opportunity to tell this quintessential island story, with island talent, in our own backyard. The island is awash with important, immersive, engaging, working class narratives to tell, outside the usual banal realms of visiting useless royal relatives. We were captured by the dramatic, tragic tale of the Freshwater Five – an instant modern myth for our time.

Whether guilty or innocent we believe the men and families of the Freshwater Five should be seen in the context of the time in which they live. A time when British coastal communities are facing far greater economic deprivation than their in-land counterparts. A time where citizens have recently suffered the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since World War II. Desperate times call for desperate measures… but myself and my director Samuel Bossman thoroughly believe the old adage, that where there is art there is hope…”

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