The Girl in the Goldfish Bowl

Review by Tony Carter – Showbill.ca Staff Writer

October 1st, 2017

Girl in the Goldfish Bowl is a charmingly absurd, startlingly emotional show for which The Fourth Wall is more of a suggestion than a rule. It is a show of contradictions, and its most memorable moments lie in the space between disparate points.

Set near Vancouver in the early 1960s, the show focuses on 11-year-old Iris narrating the events surrounding what she calls “the last few days of her childhood.” The death of her pet goldfish, Amahl, takes place just before an escalation in Cold War tensions and alongside her parents’ marital trouble. Iris is certain that these events are connected. She is also certain that the man she finds wandering along the beach in the middle of the night is the reincarnation of her departed pet, and that he will somehow fix all of their problems.

The set and costumes are brilliant and utilize shapes and colours that suit the 60s aesthetic, a pier at the oceanside, and the inside of a goldfish bowl all at once. It does begin to feel crowded in the few moments that projection screen is used, but this is mostly saved for the intermission (with one very silly exception).

The bulk of the show rests on Iris and the reincarnated Amahl, otherwise known as Mister Lawrence, respectively played by Lianne Coates and John Manson respectively, who both turn in excellent performances. It would be very easy for Iris to come across as jarringly unbelievable, but Coates feels believably precocious. Similarly, the bulk of Mister Lawrence’s dialogue involves broken sentences and confusion that easily could have become a chore to watch, but Manson turns in some of the funniest line deliveries of the cast and his dedication to the character is downright admirable.

A nod is also owed to Connie McConnell, who plays Iris’s mother. There are two moments in the show’s second half where the subtlety in her performance has nothing short of heartbreaking results. These moments are quiet and short, carried by her facial expressions and a moment of hesitancy in delivery, but are exceptional.

Unfortunately, at least on the preview night, the drama landed more firmly than the comedy. A lot of jokes felt as if their timing was just slightly off from really working. There were more than enough that did work, however, so it’s reasonable to say that the show just needs a little more fine-tuning. There are also some moments that, based purely on how they are presented by juxtaposing the serious and the humorous back to back that are guaranteed to make the audience laugh. In any other show the tonal dissonance would frustrating, but Girl in the Goldfish Bowl owns it.

The Bottom Line:

Girl in the Goldfish Bowl is an odd story about the day that a little girl grew up. The story may be hard to follow at times, but the emotion is virtually impossible not to relate to. It is worth your time.

 

The Girl in the Goldfish Bowl

A Comedy by Morris Panych

Directed by Janey Munsil

Langham Court Theatre

Showtimes:

Wed, Sep 27, 2017 8 PM Preview
Thu, Sep 28, 2017 8 PM Preview
Fri, Sep 29, 2017 8 PM RegularOpening Night
Sat, Sep 30, 2017 2 PM RegularMatinee
Tue, Oct 3, 2017 8 PM Tuesday
Wed, Oct 4, 2017 8 PM Regular
Thu, Oct 5, 2017 8 PM Regular
Fri, Oct 6, 2017 8 PM Regular
Sat, Oct 7, 2017 2 PM RegularMatinee
Sat, Oct 7, 2017 8 PM Regular
Tue, Oct 10, 2017 8 PM Tuesday
Wed, Oct 11, 2017 8 PM Regular
Thu, Oct 12, 2017 8 PM Regular
Fri, Oct 13, 2017 8 PM Regular
Sat, Oct 14, 2017 2 PM RegularMatinee
Sat, Oct 14, 2017 8 PM Regular

 

Charmingly absurd, startlingly emotional, and worth your time
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