03 December 2016 (released)
06 December 2016
‘Nice Fish’ drifts like a dislocated ice-cap – poetic and wandering with moments of beauty and humour. Mark Rylance is of course the big pull for this unlikely West End show and he doesn’t fail to woe the audience with his gormless charm as a hapless fisherman from Winsconsin.
Rylance co-wrote the script with Minnesontan prose poet, Louis Jenkins and in some ways it still feels like a series of poems or soliloques brought to life with skilfull physical comedy from the cast.
There’s more than a hint of Waiting for Godot as the two protagonists, played by Mark Rylance and Jim Lichtscheidl go ice-fishing on a frozen lake in Minnesota. Their musings are interspersed with an officious jobs-worth demanding their papers played by Bob Davis and teenage hippy Kayli Carter and her spear-fishing grandfather (Raye Birk). The fishing trip feels more metaphor than setting as they pass the time before death with no plot to speak of, rather a series of sketches and images that ripple one to the next.
The characters are initially introduced as tiny manikins on Todd Rosenthal’s huge ice-scape set, before the seemingly giant actors take centre stage. It playfully explores sudden shifts of perspectives and proportion, the tiny becoming huge and great swathes of ice being crossed with one stride.
What is irresistible about Waiting for Godot of course, is the relationship between but the characters whereas moments of connection between the cast are fleeting here, and often through physicality rather than dialogue.
That said there are some fragments of brilliant, absurdist humour dissolving any risk of pretention and warming the audience in the chill landscape. If you were going to ask what’s the point of it all, the script beats you too it, as Rylance now dressed as an old woman in a pink nightie turns to the audience and says, ‘old people are exiting this life as if it were a movie…‘I don’t get it’.
Mark Rylance writes in the programme notes, ‘What’s this play about? I don’t know. I will be making sense of it, word by word as you are.’
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