As Fishbowl opens we are confronted with three attic-like rooms on stage with three characters arriving to complete the setting of the scene. Their rooms seem to echo something of their personalities; the obsessive or techy nerd, the single hoarder and the lady with some style and warmth, if not sense, as she precariously places her pet goldfish bowl in her flat without a thought in her head.
To a packed auditorium not word was spoken but with gesture, grunts groans, nods and winks and even a bit of leg pulling (both literally and metaphorically) this piece wrapped us up in laughter with its acute observations and attention to our human foibles.
There was great variation in the humour with some jokes built with delayed payoffs, at times in contrast with physical jokes that gave us instant gratification. The sequences of action were well structured; the arrival, the settling in, the self containment and then the need for company and connection. All this happens with splendid humorous consequences. The karaoke was static and focused, unexpected and wonderfully sustained. In contrast there were more physically broader moments like settling into the apartments or getting out on the roof to sunbathe on a sunny day, the routine built from a solo moment to involve the neighbours as birds, peeping-toms and helicopters disturbed her topless moment.
A soundscape was used to great comic effect in Fishbowl with drilling or tweeting of birds not to mention the wind – of storm like proportions – all allowed for great physical moments. Exaggerated, ridiculous but somehow you could understand how it got to the stage of people falling out windows, or down waste chutes or simply being stuck, burnt or bumped.
In all the physical mayhem there is strong narrative that is hung on to relentlessly. It is brilliantly sustained as it explores what it is to be lonely or to be a couple or a friend. It pokes fun at desire while understanding our need for companionship and intimacy. Crucially it makes us laugh at ourselves and be thankful that we didn’t have such a haircut or blood test! Along with the laughter there are poignant moments that pull at the heart – the loss of a pet rabbit to a rather unpalatable stew – only to be relieved with laughter when the neighbour appears in a furry hat. Funny stuff.
You cannot help but love this show. Fishbowl is generously irreverent and full of technical tricks to make you gasp and physical displays that make you laugh and wince, along with other moments that could bring a tear to the eye. There is abundant talent here and original creativity with skills to amaze and performances to applaud. Cheer yourself up and get a ticket – if you can.
Venue 33 Pleasance Courtyard – The Grand
13:00 Aug 16-26
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