Girl in the Goldfish Bowl is the latest Greystone Theatre production, and it’s not one that you want to miss, as it brings a mixture of comedy, existentialism and a touch of history to the stage.
The play is a heart-wrenching story that follows a ten-year-old girl named Iris who is trying to navigate the world after her goldfish, Amahl — who Iris believes is responsible for holding her parents’ marriage together — suddenly dies.
When Iris finds a drifter on the beach, who she believes is the reincarnated soul of her departed goldfish, she brings him back to the house with her. But, what will happen when things don’t work out at home for Iris and the drifter?
Written by Canadian playwright Morris Panych, Girl in the Goldfish Bowl won the Governor General’s Award in 2003. For Natasha Martina — the director of the production — Panych’s writing examines the darker side of life through the lens of comedy.
“[Panych] is considered an existentialist playwright, because he loves to look at the human psyche and see what makes us tick, and that’s where he tries to draw humour in,” Martina said. “We all have aspects of ourselves that are really ornate and different, so he kind of looks at those things.”
The play takes the audience through a sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking journey. Perhaps the most striking fact is that the play makes you think about when you stopped being a child.
“One of the questions I asked my actors was, ‘Can you remember the time in your life where you were no longer a child? Was there an instance in life where it changed for you?’ And for Iris, it’s [in] witnessing of the crumbling of her parents’ marriage that she begins to recognize that she’s losing the innocence of childhood,” Martina said.
The play takes place in the 1960s around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the set props reflect that, down to the old magazines stored on the side table. The set design, done by Taegan O’Bertos, a fourth-year fine arts student, is a stunning spectacle, held together by these minute details.
The actors, who are all bachelor’s of fine arts students at the University of Saskatchewan, depict the characters beautifully, quirks and all — a dynamic that produces an ominous feeling after things do not work out the way Iris plans.
“The characters are bigger than life characters, and I think that they’re very unique, eccentric, and the dynamics of the family [are] very interesting as well,” Martina said.
If you enjoy witty humour, existentialism and strangely quirky characters, then Girl in the Goldfish Bowl is the play for you. For Martina, it’s these themes that represent what it is to be human.
“It’s a very charming play, it’s a very funny play, [and] it’s a very witty play. A lot of the humour is done through sophisticated wit, and it’s a touching play,” Martina said. “It deals with themes of love and loss and hope and the quest for something more. It’s told through the eyes of a ten-year-old, at that moment where she recognizes … the turning point from when you go from childhood to adulthood.”
Girl in the Goldfish Bowl is showing in the John Mitchell Building until Oct. 21. Tickets are $17 for students and can be purchased at the Greystone Theatre website or at reception in the John Mitchell Building.
Lyndsay Afseth / Staff Writer
Photo: David Stobbe / Supplied