The Astonishing Singing Fish! is an odd premise, but it’s a story that’s full of heart. This is tale about friendship, believing in yourself and following your dreams. Leo Elso as Peter is a lonely failed scientist, whose only achievement is to have created a friendly talking goldfish, Alexander. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Alex and Peter are each other’s only friends, and both take an interest in musicials (Alex especially.)
Their lives take an incredible turn for the fantastic, when Alex’s genuinely wonderful fascination for Les Miserables leads to the discovery that he can sing – and the dream of being a fish playing ValJean on the West End is born. What follows is a journey of the highs and lows of following your dreams and the problems that success can create between even the best of friends.
There’s a lot to love about it. It’s a talented cast, and Tice Oakfield excels at playing a fish. His wide eyed, open-mouthed, fin-flapping Alexander the goldfish is fantastic, and every opportunity we have to see him doing some particularly fishy is wonderful. The movement involved in his tank going in and out of auditions is so subtle but so good and has the audience in stitches. This is a really, really funny production but it’s also full of some great singing (particularly if you like Les Mis or Phantom and don’t have three hours to spend on them.)
Much is made of Alex’s short-term memory issues (goldfish, natch) and while this could get tedious, it actually leads to some really neat moments around ethics (regarding a hilarious birthday cake moment), but also the sadness that comes along with retaining memory.
For all the charming moments, there are some elements which feel too gaudy, too overdone, and too slapstick to fit in what is quite a sweet and smart production. The clumsy delivery of the rejection letter early on isn’t necessary, and sets an odd tone when the simple fluttering of a fin is much smarter and genuinely funnier. There’s also the question of the element of backstory. While the surface is sweet, there’s a missing element of how Peter got himself in such an isolated situation where his only friend is a fantastical talking fish – and whether or not he’ll ever get himself out of it.
This is such an enjoyable production. The finale is so full of heart, and culminates in one of the best ‘opening numbers’ I’ve ever seen. It’s a triumph of friendship, of following your dreams, and of overcoming challenges. It’s funny, sweet, and will leave you believing in the ability to do anything you set your heart to.
Music & Words by: Tice Oakfield
Director: Georgia Murphy
Production Company: Flying Dutchman
Box Office: 0333 666 3366
Booking Link: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/brockleyjackstudio/the-astonishing-singing-fish/e-gqdegj
Booking Until: This show has completed its current run