The wonderful thing about theatre is that it lends itself to thinking outside the box! On occasion, someone arrives, picks up the box, rolls it over, turns it inside out, shakes it up and down and kicks it about to explore the possibilities of performance. That effort to delve further pays off in this musical comedy, The Astonishing Singing Fish, presented by the Flying Dutchman, writes Carolyn Hart.
Symbolically, the box is centre stage as a fish tank, home of the lovable, hilarious baritone singing fish Alex, who desires the leading role of Valjean in the stage musical, Les Miserables. How you may wonder – but goldfish Alex, played by Tice Oldfield, who wrote the words and music for this amazingly awesome production gives us permission to become naively sucked in and joyfully carefree. Accompanying him, and in full support of his lofty ambitions to belt out operatic numbers from inside his glass enclosure is sidekick Dr Peter Tourette, ‘bearing no affiliation with the neurological disorder’ we are so frequently informed.
Now if that sounds bewildering, it is, so prepare to be unprepared. That is, excuse the pun, the hook in this astonishingly entertaining fishy performance. Laced with anything from singing, puppetry, mime and the nimble broadway dance steps of Tourette, whose brush with fame ignites his ego, to occasional touches of pathos, and unsurprisingly you want this operatic fish splashed with success.
You become lost in the absurd, but not so much so as to be redundant. Clever use of the fourth wall allows the orange-finned Alex and Dr Tourette to appeal to, and invite, audience participation, after all, as living room guests, we share a responsibility for the fish’s happiness.
The success of this production stems from Alex and Peter’s tight-knit polished performances. Alex tells us ‘I’m just a goldfish with this incredible dream’, a simple concept, being hugely demanding to deliver, yet with a lot of underwater paddling, they triumph.
Unapologetic, carefree, fun-filled entertainment for all ages.
The Astonishing Singing Fish is on at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, SE14 until 4 May 2019 at 7.30pm. Admission: £16, £13 conc, suitable for 14+. Phone: 0333 666 3366