About halfway through it struck me: this show isn’t about fishing at all.
What She Said, Montreal-based production company co-founded by Britney Tangedal, presents her original work: Fishing. A quirky two-hander glancing through the interactions of various odd couples by a fishing spot, Fishing threads the needle between absurdist humour and hard-hitting truths.
Erica Anderson stars in all the female roles as Adrian Shepherd takes the male ones. Along with Tangedal, the trio come from National Theatre School of Canada tradition, and it shows.
The script is precise, meditated, poignant, and fleshes out the relationships between a total of 4 couples in 60 minutes. The style is quick, snappy and witty with characters constantly coming in over each other/cutting each other off.
My only issue is that I didn’t immediately understand that they were vignettes of different characters in different situations. The first was between a married couple (again, at this fishing spot), and the second was a blind date/initial meeting of another couple. At first, however, not knowing about the show at all, the second vignette read as a scene earlier in the timeline of the original first couple. The style of the writer pushed many similarities in characterization as well, further confusing me. However, after a little while, all was clear.
Personally, at the Fringe, I find many of the performances have pacing issues, being either too short or too long. I can gladly say that Fishing does not suffer from this. A solid sixty minutes, –and a fun one at that – the play successfully fleshes out eight characters and their endearing quirks. Anderson and Shepherd do a wonderful job capturing moments and letting them go as the script moves in lighting fast pace. As an actor, it is reminiscent of acting through a Noël Coward script. Trust me, it’s not easy to make it look genuine. Anderson and Shepherd do a great job here.
The setup is minimal: two chairs and a fishing rod. The lighting is minimal as well, with only a few changes and nothing fancy. Throughout the four separate scenes, the design elements were never intrusive. This plays to the fundamental strength of the show being the script and the actors’ abilities. You don’t need fancy design elements to have a good show. The Montreal Improv set up luckily didn’t obstruct the show either. The three scene changes were done on the spot without moving parts, letting the audience stay engaged. I find set changes at Montreal Improv to typically be hard (due to the limitations), but once again they played to their strengths and the language of the show to just blaze through them.
The content really made me think about my own life, about love, about a higher power, and so on. I am torn, however, as the show at times really tries to hit profound depths, and at others times is filled with great laughs; however, it doesn’t do enough of both to be taken as either.
Overall though, a great comedy speaks truths through laughs, and Fishing does just that. And it does it really well.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Rahul Gandhi
What She Said presents “Fishing”
When: June 8 – 18, 2017
Where: Montreal Improv Theatre A, 3697 Saint-Laurent Blvd.
Duration: 65 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
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