EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: FISHBOWL, Pleasance Courtyard - The Grand
After winning the esteemed French theatre award, the Moliére, for Best Comedy Play, Fishbowl brings its slapstick physical comedy to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time.
The show explores the comedy of camaraderie and community between three strangers living in a block of tiny apartments - and how their relationships swing between being as strong as the foundations and as weak as the paper-thin walls.
Anyone who's been in tight proximity housing can relate to the complexities of close living. Especially when a new person moves into your hallway, and how they can alter the dynamics of everyone else around them.
The story is linear, but not structured like a typical play. It jumps in and out with short humorous sketches and mishaps, with a central stream focusing on love and friendship. Fishbowl does not simply rely on jokes - there are real movements of dark emotion, paired with dark humour so as to never go too deep. The gags are plentiful, but not constant, tending to conjure a chuckle rather than a belly laugh.
It feels like a grown-up kids show, in a similar vein to The Play That Goes Wrong. The set is grand in detail and fully loaded with theatrical tech. All flash-bang pyro glory, and, with assistance from the stage hands, it feels like a fourth character in the show.
Yet the set is a bit lost in the big theatre. You could assume anyone without a central view will miss parts of the quick-moving action, as there is so much to see. However, the action never overwhelms, and manages to keep focus where and when needed.
The solid threesome cast excel in mime, acting and physical humour. They jump from scene to scene like swans, making the quick changes and rapid stage movements feel seamless.
Fishbowl is a frantic French Fringe farce, offering an amusing one hour 15 minutes, but feels like lacking something to make it a true masterpiece.