A fish is a cold-blooded animal with gills and fins that lives in water. Thanks to Rollercoaster Theatre Company a second definition can be added to this word: a fantastical soap opera about fear and anxiety. Rollercoaster Theatre is an ensemble of trained actors with intellectual disabilities from diverse backgrounds that work with a different director every 6 - 12 months. For fish, the company has teamed up with Maude Davey, so naturally the show ends up being a visually engaging piece of performance art with its various songs and dances throughout.
fish explores the varying degrees of fear and anxiety that people can have and it's not just about the people that live just down the road from you. These issues are looked at through a variety of people, including powerful political figures like Donald Grump, who despite
his public bravado hides a vulnerability that is only exposed behind closed doors. The ensemble cast - David Baker, Michael Buxton, Shea MacDonough, Ryan New, Erin Pocervina, Melissa Slaviero, Cameron Stanley, and Andrew Tresidder - remain committed to their roles with a confidence that comes when an actor is sure of who their character is.
The show is fittingly staged inside the Melba Spiegeltent, and given the number of songs and dances, the venue itself adds a strong spectacle feel to the production. Davey utilises the entire Spiegeltent for the show, thus literally expanding the environment of the stories and providing the actors the freedom to move around and for their fears to be expressed through their physicality and movement.
However, a tighter script by the Rollercoaster Theatre ensemble would have resulted in ideas being explored more clearly and providing stories that the audience could easily engage with.
The impressive technical designs for fish do a great job in bringing all the elements together and creating the world being presented to us, particularly the lighting design by Paul Lim, who convincingly transports us to an expansive and somewhat desolate ocean setting. The set and costume design by Adrienne Chisholm build on this world with the costumes allowing the characters the opportunity to express their differences. Musical Director Chris Lewis and fellow musician Carolyn Connor's atmospheric music creates strong aural support to the scenes that play out.
As a performance piece on fear and helplessness, fish is entertaining at times but a more cohesive story structure would have left a deeper imprint. However, when looked at through a social lens of understanding the needs
and requirements that people with disabilities require and on being inclusive within our artistic and cultural community, fish has a strong message to impart.
Venue: Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnson Street, Collingwood
Season: until 2 September | 7:00pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession
Bookings: Try Booking
Photo Credit: Sarah Walker