Following acclaim on the continent, this almost dialogue-free slapstick comedy arrived in Edinburgh to be greeted with a livid rash of 5-star reviews. It certainly packed them in at one of the Fringe’s biggest venues, and I suspect it will become a crowd-pleasing returning event alongside all the improv shows and Insert Topical Subject: The Musical! If you’re happy to turn your brain off and surrender to pure undemanding entertainment, make sure you look out for this one.
Do you detect a note of cynicism? Yes, you do. There’s absolutely no doubt that the team behind this show are superbly accomplished in their field, but for me it fails to satisfy anything but the basest theatrical requirements. Call me a theatre snob – you won’t be the first – but when the Edinburgh Fringe is stuffed full of genuinely fresh and innovative new work struggling to fill 60-seat venues, to have an established production selling out what must be a 300+ capacity space every day really rather rankles. But I shall attempt to park my grumpy chops (until the final paragraph) and give you the low-down on this popular slice of low art.
The piece features three characters who live next door to each other in an ingeniously designed set which in no way resembles the artfulness of the show’s publicity images. There’s a suited, portly gent whose home is a minimalist smart house which he keeps spotlessly clean in an isn’t-OCD-hilarious? Sort of way. By contrast, next door is a gangly bearded hoarder who can barely move for all the clutter he’s accumulated. Finally, there’s the girl with the titular fishbowl who tries her hand – disastrously – at various professions including massage and hairdressing and has romantic interludes with both men (separately – it’s not that French).
The plot is episodic and sketchy, but the three performers’ timing is faultless and the set accomplishes marvels. Bras and wigs are whipped off by the wind and end up in embarrassing locations, the hoarder character fattens up a rabbit but lacks the courage to kill it, and every time the fat chap claps his hands a high-tech toilet swings out of the wall, prompting howls of laughter on each of the many occasions this occurs.
As I’ve indicated, it’s an already successful show that happens not to be to my taste, even though I can acknowledge the skills of those involved. I’m sure it will be packing them in for years to come.
Written by: Pierre Guillois, Agathe L’Huillier, Olivier Martin-Salvan
Directed by: Pierre Guillois
Produced by: Olivier Pierre-Noel, for Stories In Theatre Productions
Playing until: This show has completed its current run