Pleasance Courtyard The Grand, Edinburgh – until 26 August 2019
A sold-out Pleasance Grand suggests that Fishbowl may be one of the hits of the summer. It’s little surprise, this piece of physical theatre, winner of a Moliere award for best comedy in 2015, is an exhilarating joyride; 75 minutes of beautifully executed mayhem and slapstick that culminates fittingly with probably the best climax to any show seen this year.
The devil is in the detail, and here three perfectly realised studio flats are used for ever-escalating set pieces. It’s rare a stage management team get a curtain call but the one the two take here is certainly deserved. Watching their backstage track is almost certainly as fascinating as the show itself.
The three flats contain three lonely souls. One is pristine and futuristic (a toilet rolls out whenever a clapping noise is made to ever more hilarity), belonging to a man who hides his emotional repression through his fastidiousness. Another is a space of chaos, every available inch taken up with clutter, a hammock sprawling down the middle. These two vastly different men live side by side but their lives bleed into each other, symbolised by a pack of biscuits being pushed from one cupboard through to the other. When a woman moves into the third flat, all their lives fall into chaos.
From a glorious piece of business that gives the play its title, to a mistaken case of a Peeping Tom, the set pieces build in intensity, given flawless execution by its uninhibited cast, but it’s also a piece about how a family can be created from the oddest of bedfellows. Although I wasn’t fully sold on the love triangle that the women’s appearance created, its closing stages where they come together to help and support each other is beautifully realised.
Like a master farceur, writers and creators Pierre Guillois, Agatha L’Huillier and Oliver Martin-Salver know that the jokes have to emerge organically from the story. It does that here while keeping the laugh a minute quota particularly high. A Fringe smash!