Girl In The Goldfish Bowl at The Bakehouse Theatre

Miranda Pike in Girl In The Goldfish Bowl. Photo by Michael Errey.
Miranda Pike in Girl In The Goldfish Bowl. Photo by Michael Errey.

The Bakehouse Theatre plays host to Canadian playwright Morris Panych’s 2003 award-winning Girl In The Goldfish Bowl. A mild, yet interesting and engaging drama representing a crossover piece in the canon of the author.

Panych, up until this work, was known for his musicals and his Theatre of the Absurd. While this work does draw on those elements it remains seated in a traditional presentation, which allows for a broader audience and engages that audience with a deceptively easy access to its linear storyline.

The story surrounds the observations of central character Iris (Flinders Drama Centre graduate Miranda Pike), who tells us, at age 10 turning 11 (turning about 35 within the dialogue) she’s in the last few days of her childhood.

Iris brings home to her Mum (Sylvia – played by Adelaide College of the Arts graduate Romina Verdiglione), Dad (Owen – also an AC Arts graduate Patrick Clements) and their boarder Miss Rose (Adelaide Critics Circle award winner Bronwen James) a man – Mr Lawrence (played by 2012 Flinders graduate Scott Perry). She found him washed up on the beach and convinces herself he’s the reincarnation of the family’s recently deceased goldfish.

[pull_left]This production of Girl In The Goldfish Bowl is as warm and inviting as The Bakehouse Theatre itself.[/pull_left]

Panych pulls his audience into the sad and lonely neurosis of a family pulling away from each other during the heady days of the Cuban Missile crisis and the changes brought about in the Roman Catholic faith by the Vatican 2 Council in late 1962. ‘Young’ Iris hopes the inscrutable Mr Lawrence will be the catalyst that holds her world together but things don’t quite work out the way she wants.

Pike as the titular girl did slightly fumble her lines a couple of times on the night but her overall performance was generally very good. Verdiglione is effective as the bi-polar Sylvia “I don’t have the desire to stay and I don’t have the will to leave anymore”. Scott Perry is convincing as the confused and mysterious stranger Mr Lawrence. Patrick Clements gives an excellent portrayal of the eternally depressed and hopelessly lovelorn Owen. The standout performance of this production is clearly Bronwen James in the supremely cynical role of Miss Rose.

Director Peter Green sustains his usual first-rate standards in this particular theatre. Stephen Dean’s simple lighting and sound is seamless with the Jazz numbers imparting a sense of Woody Allen’s more humanist films exploring anxiety and despair which suits this play down to the ground.

Manda Webber’s set design (a lounge-room with a hallway and stairs behind) is dramatically perfect and noticeably assisted by Andrew Zeuner and Peter Howard’s construction finesse.

This production of Girl In The Goldfish Bowl is as warm and inviting as The Bakehouse Theatre itself. The warmth comes from those all too human emotions that generate from failed (and successful) relationships and the invitation is to reflect on one’s own emotional lot from the comfort and safety of time and the fourth wall.

Girl In The Goldfish Bowl is a perfect fit for a cold autumn evening in Adelaide.

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