Saturday, December 9, 2023
EntertainmentTHEATRE - Fishbowl at the Pleasance Courtyard

THEATRE – Fishbowl at the Pleasance Courtyard

FISHBOWL is an observational tour de force that belts the funny bone at a wildly funny angle from the very go-get.

[star rating =5/5]

Fish bowl at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Photo courtesy of Pascal Perennec

A trio of misfits enter a Parisian bedsit land – three side-by-side apartments in the eves of a quirky house overlooking the city.

Olivier Martin-Salvan is a balding obsessive compulsive, who lives in a minimalist dwelling and steals his neighbour’s biscuits through a shared ventilation hatch. He wears big white underpants too!

Writer and performer, Pierre Guillois, plays a trampy-looking bachelor with mad hair and habits who is forced to eat his pet rabbit when times get hard. He sports a dirty grey vest and underpants, likes bird-watching and is hapless in the extreme.

The third is a hysterical young woman, (AGATHE L’HUILLIERE), who screams often, sunbathes on the roof and is learning hairdressing and home medicine to boost her career.

Her pink bra takes incredible flight in one crazy weather scene.

In another, phenomenal sound effects accompany us through her manipulation of Guillois’ neck and spine, honing in on creaking joints and generalised torture. Remarkable physical theatre and facial expressions fill in the gaps.

Fish bowl at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Photo courtesy of Pascal Perennec

The 75 minute adventure follows a string of life events both mundane and sublime. There are moments of two’s company three’s a crowd, as love interest rears itself in both comic and sad ways. We all feel a twinge of loneliness and despair for the one left out.

Jealousy, friendship, affection, anger, romance joy and pain all take a stroll through the colourful scenes.

Guillois is the stand-out player in the piece, which could have been scribed for Jacques Tati, Stan Laurel or Charlie Chaplin.

The French actor’s clowning prowess is perfect as like some Loony Tunes cartoon character dogged by disaster he boings back to life after regular physical catastrophe.

But the other actors are equally mesmeric and inventive, especially playing out their opportunistic love affair to a charmingly uplifting, sunny score.

It’s bonkers stuff, a fishbowl is polluted with bleach, there is karaoke and cooking, dancing and dark shadows, and a toilet that appears and disappears at the click of a finger.

In fact, expect plenty of toilet humour in this wordless performance, which will flush out all notion that inventive slapstick theatre belongs in the good old days.

The set and stage management also deserve a shout. Bringing order to this chaotic habitat must be something of an art form in itself.

Well-deserving of the Molière Award it picked up in France – I’m guessing there will be more gongs in the pipeline.

Continuing the toilet theme: this is an absolute thunderbox of a show – I loved it and would watch it again in a flash.

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