Confident and engaging from the outset, Fishlace starts by taking us through his warm-up sequence. How about some mime? He is asked to channel his spirit animal - the one that best demonstrates his personality - and he becomes... a pigeon. His rendition includes him leaving the stage and walking into the audience as a pigeon - no mean feat as he has to jump, pigeon-like, from the stage to the floor below.
Let's try some accents! Fishlace runs through his repertoire, receiving some support from William Shakespeare along the way.
And now a physical warm up! This is an exhausting sequence that has Fishlace running, jumping and cavorting more than should have been humanly possible in such a small space, all the while maintaining a great line of patter.
Working now more directly with the audience, Fishlace approaches the hapless Anthony, sitting in the front row, and helps him to channel his 'inner actor'.
David gets to eat the 'truth sandwich'
A little later, my partner David gets picked to go up on stage. (He has a talent for being picked... luckily he doesn't mind!). He is asked to eat 'the truth sandwich', which is in fact, an actual sandwich (Vegemite on white bread, Dave later informs me). The sandwich is some sort of an analogy, but by now I'm laughing so hard, I think I've lost the thread.
I had to laugh too at Fishlace's sequence about how the venue for his show was selected. 'I wanted a venue that SMELLED of theatre', says Fishlake. Belleville, unapologetically grungy (or perhaps I should say 'shabby chic'), is situated down an alley, necessitating you walking past rubbish skips that create their own ambience to reach the entrance. As Fishlace notes, it's about as far from Hamer Hall as you could possibly get.
Fishlace prepares for 'the big reveal'
To round out the performance, Fishlace hits the audience with 'the big reveal' - well, I won't spoil his secret, but it is surprising to say the least!
Fishlace Jones - Behind the Curtain is a gem of a show. There is so much packed into the 45 minutes that I'm not doing it justice with this overview; in fact, as my partner Dave said, it felt like a show you could go back and see again, and get something different from it the second time around. It was compelling and thoroughly entertaining, and we would happily have sat through a longer show.
Charlie Ranger is masterful in his comedic delivery and timing, and the physical elements of the show are also most impressive. The range of skills and stagecraft (particularly on such a tiny stage) are extensive. But even more to the point, this show is HILARIOUS. There were times when I was brushing away tears of laughter.
So if Fishlace Jones is not already on your Fringe list, it should be!
Fishlace Jones - Behind the Curtain plays at Belleville Melbourne, Globe Alley (off Little Bourke Street), Melbourne at 6.00pm each night until Sunday 16th September.
Tickets are full - $20, concession - $18. Click here to buy tickets online.
The images in this article were taken by the writer.