Witty and thought provoking

Girl in the Goldfish Bowl

Venue: Granville Island Stage, Vancouver

Date(s): March 28 - April 27, 2002

Reviewer: Jane Penistan

The sound of running water is the overture to The Girl in the Goldfish Bowl. It accompanies the set of a somewhat dilapidated interior of a family home, flanked by the towering timbers of the neighbouring dock.

As the lights go up, Iris is balancing on the back of the shabby chesterfield, wearing a snorkel and goggles, executing the breaststroke. Iris removes her diving gear and explains that this is the last day of her happy childhood, that she is eleven years old and that her beloved goldfish has died and been flushed down the toilet by her mother. Leslie Jones plays Iris exuberantly.

Wearing pinafore dresses or jeans she bounces through the evening with all the enthusiasm and gaucherie of a pre adolescent. Graceless as a puppy and as uninhibited, Iris is the daughter of an unsuccessful, war-damaged, designer/inventor father and a disillusioned mother.

Still not quite in the present day and full of his dreams for his great design, Owen (Tom Scholte) and Sylvia (Jennifer Clement), are the disenchanted parents. Sylvia is so taken up with trying to make ends meet in her poverty stricken life, and full of self pity, she has little time to pay much attention to her fanciful daughter.

In order to make a little income, the parents take in lodgers. Rose works at the nearby fish cannery, and is a lady of much experience in life and a tendency to drowning her sorrows. Meredith Bain Woodward's Rose is a full-blown flower withering her way through to a hopeless future. A great performance.

Into this unlikely household comes Lawrence (Zachary Ansley), a man of mystery. When he first confronts Owen, Lawrence is wearing Owen's bathrobe. Both he and Iris explain that Lawrence has fallen into the water and that his clothes are being dried, and that is why the robe is borrowed. Iris and Sylvia both want Lawrence to stay at the house, but initially, Owen is suspicious of this stranger who has nowhere to go and seems to have come from nowhere.

Lawrence charms Iris, who begins to consider him a reincarnation of her goldfish, and he even convinces Owen that his design is not in vain. Sylvia is attracted to this unknown man. Rose is instantly wary of this enigma, considering him a "con man".

As relations between Owen and Sylvia deteriorate, Sylvia becomes more enamoured of Lawrence, and secretly begins to lay plans to leave home, --possibly with Lawrence? Rose gets drunk and throws herself at Lawrence, but subsides into oblivion. According to Iris, she finds Lawrence covered in blood after an accident in the bathroom.

Suddenly the family is united. Sylvia and Iris try to get his body down the stairs and out to the river, but alone they cannot manage it. Owen finds them and comes to their help.

Rose reads in the paper that a body of an unknown man has been washed up, but the family is not concerned. Iris, now an adult, looks back on her childhood and the reality of her shattered dream. This is a really moving climax to an intriguing, witty and thought-provoking play.

While the standard of performance of all the actors is excellent, Iris' transition from child to adult is outstanding.

Morris Panych has given his cast interesting characters to realize, and supplied them with a humorous script. This production is full of life and energy and is never dull. Suitably impecuniously dressed, the cast is ably supported by the music, soundscape and subtle lighting.

It was a privilege to be present at this most successful first night of The Girl in the Goldfish Bowl.

2002, Jane Penistan

Girl in the Goldfish Bowl runs at The Arts Club Granville Island Stage March 28 - April 27, 2002, Monday through Saturday at 8.00 p.m. with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2.00 p.m.
Tickets are Monday $28.50, Seniors, $25.50, Students $18.50. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, $35.50, Seniors, $30.50. Students, $22.50. Friday and Saturday evenings $37.50, all seats. Matinees Wednesday and Saturday $8,50, Seniors, $25.50, Students $18.50.
Box Office 604-687-1644

Monday Mix Lecture, Monday April 8. Free complimentary light supper, 6.30; Lecture commences at 7.00 p.m. "Life in the Theatre on and off the Stage" by Morris Panych.
Tuesday, Talkback April 16 at 8.00 p.m.
Wednesday, Telus Student Matinee April 3, 17, 24 (Talkback). All performances at 2.00 p.m. Telus Educational Subsidies contact Group Sales 604-687-5315, ext. 245 for information.

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