Walking Fish Festival

Dates and Venue 10-14 June 2009 | Performance Works, Granville Island

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Upintheair Theatre Society presented nine one-act plays ranging from absurd comedy to drama to physical mask performance, at the seventh annual Walking Fish Festival. The productions included creative work from graduates from all the Lower Mainland's major training programs, and Vancouver's young theatre professionals. The festival, according to producer Dave Mott, is an opportunity for audiences to witness 'theatre evolution' in action.

I attended Set C at last June 14th's matinee and saw three of the one-acts: Insider Trading by MartinGrover, The City Green by Jon Stewart, and Faustmaschine by David Mount. A prelude to the upcoming Fringe Festival, I found these plays quite convincing and ready for performance at the Fringe.

Insider Trading reminded me of Mamet's plays with a tinge of Pinter's. A two-woman play directed by John Bolton and performed by Kate Bateman and Laura Wilson. It's about lying and deceit in the stock market and at the same time, adultery and lust in the personal life of one of the stockbrokers. The two actors, one of them married to him and the other, a partner, talk about him. This could be a powerful play. It only needs some fine tuning from the actor/director point of view. Try to remember acting basics: no upstaging. Try to go on level ground. In other words, if you go downstage, let the other actor follow to avoid upstaging. Also, take it easy on lines. Pinter used a lot of dramatic pauses. Utilize this technique.

The second play, City Green, was directed by Josh Halem and Ryan Clayton. I hope only one directed this show because directing is a dictatorial task. It is not at all democratic. If it is democratic, the play will tend towards anarchism and confusion. And that's what I thought of this play. There were too many ingredients in the broth, and perhaps too many ideas democratically put in that the main focus gets lost. There were people dressed in Starbucks outfits (since the play dealt with a farce on Starbucks); there were zany characters, one dressed as a Gypsy fortune teller and the other, dressed as an I-don[t-know-what playing the fiddle and disrupting the dialogue of the actors. And there was a lack of focus on the main theme which I presume had to do with poisoning of Starbucks coffee.

The last play was the best: a one-man performance directed by Anna Springate-Floch and performed by Troy Young who looked and played the part to the T of a Nazi medical doctor, loyal to the Fuhrer, and doing his job of extermination extremely well. The play was well-researched and well-written, and the production was well-mounted.

Congratulations to Dave Mott and the rest of the festival staff for the success of this 7th festival. In the introduction to this set, he mentioned that they made some money in this festival to at least pay some fees to the actors.

© 2009 Ed Farolan