‘Some moments of brilliance’: A KETTLE OF FISH – The Yard Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

The Yard Theatre, London – 13 October 2018

Lisa is on a work trip with two colleagues. Things at home are a bit stressful and she normally isn’t included at this level of project management, but she’s fine. Not long into the flight, an attendant asks to have a word with her at the front of the plane. The devastating news she receives sets off a chain reaction of grief, anger and meltdowns. As Lisa tries to hold it together in front of the other passengers, reality slips from her grasp.

Brad Birch’s script for a solo performer has some moments of wonderful language and a spidery plot that is linear in terms of the plane’s journey, but the collapse of Lisa’s mental state is anything but. As Lisa deteriorates, her experiences become more clearly unreal, though some of what she narrates in the run-up could be true – or not. It has a destabilising effect, enhanced further when paired with the binaural headphones through which we hear all of the dialogue and sound effects.

Though the headphones are fun, they don’t add much or dramatically alter the experience of taking in the show. In an intimate theatre like the Yard, there’s not much difference to listening to sound and speech more directly. Though there is some directional sound, there’s not enough to fully justify the headphone use.

Wendy Kweh plays Lisa, an anxious woman struggling to cope with what the world throws at her. Her nervous energy teeters between being ok and definitely not being ok as she tries to maintain British composure is a public space. Combined with a volatile narrative, the overall effect is unsettling and surreal, like a dream or watching a tragedy unfold on the other side of the world.

The fragmented and twisting dramaturgy requires a lot of audience attention, though there’s a sense that it’s dragging Lisa and those watching her along for a ride. There are some moments of brilliance and the structural disintegration is impressive, but sometimes the experience is unpleasant what with its confusion and instability rather than that of excitement and adventure.

Laura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.
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Laura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.