Reviewed – 9th August 2019
“While you laugh at the characters’ blunders, you warm to their naivety”
Fishbowl is a wild mix of theatre’s ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ and TV’s ‘Friends’. It transcends language, using mime and stagecraft to paint the picture of three individuals living side-by-side. The three stock characters portrayed are the hoarder (Pierre Guillois), the tech-nerd (Jonathan Pinto-Rocha) and the wacky experimentalist (Agathe L’Huillier). You can’t help but love this bunch of misfits, even as the world around them crumbles. The audience was in hysterics watching as the comedy of errors played out. It is a seventy-five minute whirlwind of a play, full of surprises.
What makes this production such a stand out is the exciting use of set, props, lights and sound effects. The set, marvellously designed by Laura Léonard, becomes a character in itself. The design is the cross-section of the three apartments, making the audience view them as if the characters are in a fishbowl – we peer in on their every move. The three homes are sandwiched together and are visually very different, creating a sense of claustrophobic chaos. The knock-on effect that each flat owner has on the other is clear through the clever use of special effects. The stagecraft team, through their use of puppetry, quick changes and design elements, are fundamental to the play’s success. The use of visual and audio gags is a running theme throughout, providing constant laughs. One such example of this is each of the characters’ fight with a mosquito that can never seem to be got rid off.
The cast’s skills in mime and physical comedy are a thrill to watch. Every possible aggravating factor about living with others is well observed and then exaggerated to the extreme for comic effect. The direction, also by Guillois, is faultless. The idiosyncrasies of each character are consistent, such as the individual way each opened their door or how they slept.
On the surface Fishbowl is about a bunch of oddly-matched neighbours who physically fend off the outside world through a series of increasingly ridiculous blunders. However, this is ultimately a play about finding connection with others. While you laugh at the characters’ blunders, you warm to their naivety. This is an accessible show for anyone at Fringe: I can’t recommend it enough. I have never seen a play make falling over, losing items of clothing and dropping things down rubbish shoots look so authentic. It is a testament to not only the actors, but the team of designers and backstage crew that help to make the show run so smoothly. I see big things to come for this company in Edinburgh and beyond.
Reviewed by Emily Morris
Photography by Fabienne Rappeneau
Pleasance Courtyard until 26th August as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019